By Ruth London of Fuel Poverty Actionfuel poverty action image

At Reclaim the Power, Fuel Poverty Action will be hosting two workshops, on Friday at 3 pm and, for those who can’t make that, on Sunday at noon.

The government insist that fracking has the “potential” to bring bills down in the UK. Even they admit this won’t actually happen, and so do the chair and the PR executive of Cuadrilla, and a slew of others, from Deutsche Bank to Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Even the “world’s most generous” tax breaks for frackers won’t change the fact that this is not the US. The costs of extraction are higher. And fracked UK gas would mostly be exported; the European market determines prices.

If anything has the “potential” to bring prices down, it’s renewable energy. No wonder people in Balcombe, Sussex, who last year fought off fracking, have started their own renewable energy cooperative. So are people in test-drilled Barton Moss, near Manchester. The “uninhabited areas in the North East”, where Tory peer Lord Howell suggested “there’s plenty of room for fracking”, are no doubt looking in the same direction.

But the myth of cheap gas is not allowed to die – it is too important to the fossil fuel industry and their friends and relations in government. It serves to drive a wedge between people concerned about the environment – including their water, their homes, and the climate – and “ordinary people” who can’t afford their bills.

Or so they hope. Trouble is, we are often the same people, both in leafy Sussex and in Howell’s “desolate north”. During last year’s RtP camp, Anglican spokesman Philip Fletcher defended fracking because “we mustn’t forget the poor”. But it’s a lie that people resisting fracking have no problem with their bills. It’s a slander that “the poor” don’t care about the countryside or the climate.

And while environmentalists are battling hard against the Big Six, so are the thousands who are standing up – too often alone — against their extortionate, violent and sometimes illegal methods of collecting on debts and bills.

With your help, this weekend can help lay the groundwork for a self-help movement to confront the Big Six together.

Building a self-help movement against the Big Six

Fuel Poverty Action is a grassroots campaign group working in solidarity with pensioners, disabled people, single mothers, benefit claimants, low waged workers, and others directly affected by fuel poverty – which kills at least 10,000 a year in the UK. Together, we are building a movement for an affordable, public and renewable energy system, where no one will be left to freeze.

We hope all sorts of groups, from climate activists and anarchist social centres to advice agencies and community groups, will support people on this front line, preventing disconnections, break-ins to impose unwanted pre-payment meters, and murderous debt repayment rates, and evictions by rip-off landlords who won’t make basic repairs.

The FPA workshops will introduce two new tools.
1. ‘In trouble with your energy company: a mini-guide to your rights’ to help us all stick up for ourselves and others. Trainings will also be available, if not at the camp, then after.
2. a new sort of energy bill – the Energy Bill of Rights. Beginning with
“the right to affordable energy to meet our basic needs” – “Everyone should be able to cook food and keep warm when it’s cold”
this Bill also includes
“the right to energy that does not threaten health, safety, water, air or the local environment of a community– This means no fracking and no unwanted oil and gas pipelines through communities.”

We’re asking groups and individuals to sign up to the Bill of Rights and help us get the word out ahead of its launch in Parliament on 27th October.

But first – see you at the workshops! Or contact:
Twitter @fuelpovaction
Facebook Fuel Poverty Action