Cuadrilla's planning applications for shale gas drilling (fracking) test sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood have received over 14,000 objections (the deadline is 5 September). But despite the overwhelming public opposition to fracking, the Coalition Government is reliant on party donations from energy companies - with whom 125 ministers have financial links. £billions of public funds have been made available in tax breaks and subsidies to push fracking licensing through for them, regardless of public opinion or the environmental and social cost to the affected regions.
David Cameron's recent appointment of pro-fracking lobbyist, and ex-chair of Arup (a Cuadrilla and Peel Group partner and generous political donor) Sir Phillip Dilley to head the Environment Agency is a national disgrace and has sent an unmistakeable message to the electorate that conventional democratic structures and environmental safeguards are no match for the political influence of the fracking industry.
'Reclaim the Power' Protest Camp
The 'Reclaim the Power' protest camp has been running all week at the
On Monday activists occupied the office building in
Campaigners protested outside the offices of PPS Group, Cuadrilla's PR company. PPS is the company exposed in 2007 on Channel 4's 'Despatches' for their involvement in the Spodden Valley asbestos site development scandal in Rochdale. Their tactics were described as including: sending of fake letters in
It's not just the problem of 125 government ministers
Ex Urbe report
on fracking landlords Peel Group).
Councillors with vested interests
Anti-fracking campaigners from the Reclaim the Power camp in Blackpool visited the homes of local councillors with vested interests in supporting fracking in Lancashire. Their banners read: “Corrupt councillor”, “Reclaim the power”. A banner was hung
Other campaigners placed 88 ‘atoms of Radium' (not really, just craft models) around Lytham as a temporary art installation to highlight concerns about negative impacts of fracking on public health and the environment from the radioactive discharges inherent in the process. Each item has a message attached
Radioactive contamination of the Manchester Ship Canal
Anti-fracking campaigners from Salford hung a banner from a bridge at Salford Media City (owned by
Frack Fluid haulage company blockaded
More activists blockaded the Total Environmental Technology premises outside of Hull, glueing the doors closed to shut down the site. TET lorries are currently being used to remove waste and used fracking chemicals – “frack fluids” – from live sites.
HSBC die-in13 activists staged a “die-in” at the Birley Street, Blackpool, branch ofHSBC bank, where they raised banners displaying the phrases “Fracker’s Bank” and “Toxic Investors”. Public response to the action was overwhelmingly positive.
Public money funnelled
In Swansea, eight protesters shut down construction of a new Swansea University building and caused chaos for commuters to highlight the tens of millions of pounds of public money being funnelled into research on fracking for the benefit of fracking corporations via Swansea University's new Energy Safety Research Institute.
Campaigners also occupied and shut down a new fracking site run by Canadian company Rathlin Energy at Crawberry Hill, East Yorkshire.
Occupation at DEFRA
Three activists superglued themselves to the main entrance of DEFRA in London, and “locked on” through reinforced arm tubes to prevent access. Another climbed the building and unfurled a banner reading:
Government report censored
DEFRA was targeted to draw attention to their report published last week on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities, with particular reference to Lancashire, which contained 63 redactions concealing issues raised by potential social, environmental and economic impacts.
Blockade at IGas
Also in London, there was a blockade of the headquarters of IGas Energy – a Peel Group partner and one of the major fossil fuel exploration and production companies involved in fracking in the UK. IGas have been carrying out exploratory work for coalbed methane at Barton Moss near Salford, Greater Manchester, sparking copious local resistance and brutal police repression of protesters.
A `Memorandum of Understanding' obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by NetPol showed the high level of collusion between its co-signees Salford Council, IGas, Greater Manchester Police and Peel Holdings during the anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss - sharing intelligence, communications and branding. It's a strategy that owes its origins to tactics used by Shell Oil to eradicate local opposition in the Niger Delta, by suborning regional authorities into providing native militia to wipe out local resistance. The Memorandum even set out the level of force that the police were expected to use against the public - who pay their wages. It contained an agreement that IGas would take the lead role overseeing all media communications.
You can find out more about the creative and escalating public campaign against fracking at the following websites and facebook pages: