Lancaster anti-fracking campaigners are so angry that Barclay's Bank is financing fracking in Yorkshire through its subsidiary company Third Energy that they joined with visiting activist group Reclaim the Power on Friday lunchtime to protest peacefully (if somewhat noisily) outside Barclay's Lancaster branch with banners, leaflets and a mobile sound system to draw attention to the bank's climate-destructive activities.
Barclay's-owned Third Energy has recently obtained permission to carry out extreme shale gas fracking in the agricultural heart of the Vale of Pickering in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Both Third Energy and Lancashire would-be-fracking company Cuadrilla are majority owned through paperwork based in the Cayman Islands offshore tax haven.
The protest was the precursor to a national week of protest to run from 24 - 29 October, against Barclay's investment in extreme fossil fuel extraction. The protest week is planned by Friends of the Earth, People & Planet, Frack Free Ryedale, SumOfUs and 350.org. You can find out more about it at www.foe.co.uk/blog/why-im-taking-action-october.
Voted worst current account provider
They want customers of Barclay's to switch banks to a different company. And not just because last year Barclays was ranked as the UK’s worst current account provider for the third time in a row.
Barclays was one of the three major banks named in a 2016 banktracking analysis report as the world's leading financiers for extreme oil and gas projects described as economically disastrous and having inflicted severe damage on communities, ecosystems, and the climate.
It's not the first time the bank has faced trouble for its antisocial activities. In 2012 it was sentenced to fines totalling $450 million for fraudulently colluding in rigging the Libor rates over 9 years. The banks involved earned hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, in wrongful profits as a result of artificially inflating Libor rates on the first day of each month during the complaint period.
It was estimated in the US that at least 100,000 people lost thousands of dollars due to the banks' unlawful activity, with many people holding sub-prime mortgages losing their homes. Losses to municipalities through this manipulation of the rates were estimated at $4billion.
Crying on the way to the bank?
While members of the Lancaster public were broadly supportive of the protest group's aims, in particular County Councillor for Morecambe South Darren Clifford, who was passing and stopped to offer encouragement, bank staff appeared to be less so, with one customer reporting that the leaflet handed to her on the way in had been snatched out of her hand by a member of staff once inside.
Another customer said 'At the end of the day, they're just too big and we're too small'. But not everyone is crying on the way to the bank.
National Gathering in LancasterReclaim the Power are holding their National Gathering in Lancaster tomorrow (Saturday) at the Marsh Community Centre. High on their agenda will be planning, training and development of co-ordinated campaign infrastructure to make it impossible for companies such as Third Energy and Cuadrilla to carry out their work.
They are looking at developing resistance across the board; not only at preventing work from being carried out at the sites but also by targeting suppliers and contractors involved with the fracking companies and their associates.
Other wings of the campaign will be supporting electoral candidates who are realistic about climate change and committed to developing sustainable energy resources, raising awareness of the processes and consequences involved in extreme shale gas extraction, promoting artistic and creative events and activities and more.
United Against Fracking National Rally on 12 November in Manchester
Supported by the TUC, the United Against Fracking national rally will consist of a march, guest speakers, music and much more. Coaches are being arranged from a variety of destinations and more details on speakers, sponsors and organisations taking part will emerge daily, To find out more, visit the event facebook page or http://frackfreelancashire.org/events/.
People interested in learning more about the campaign can contact Frack Free Lancashire and Frack Free Ryedale online through facebook or via their websites.