Fracking didn’t excite me. It wasn’t why I became passionate about protecting the environment, it wasn’t something I felt confident discussing, and it certainly wasn’t something capable of convincing me to travel 195 miles from Glasgow to Blackpool to campaign against. And yet, last week I spent three amazing days at Preston New Road where I discovered a rhetoric that is often missing from the anti-fracking movement.
Preston New Road plays host to the UK’s first proposed fracking site in the heart of Lancashire with various companies having attempted to frack the land there since 2011. The local community #SaidNo, the local government #SaidNo, and in the end, the Conservative Government said we’re doing it anyway! Since then the local community have demonstrated admirable perseverance; manning the entrance to the fracking site day and night delaying Cuadrilla’s work by 9-12 months.
On the 27th of June 2018, UKYCC headed down to Preston New Road to support and witness the work being carried out first hand. Our visit coincided with Reclaim the Power’s organised #BlockAroundTheClock, marking the end of the three months of rolling #UnitedResistance against fracking. Given the government’s recent announcement to potentially change the way Fracking permits are given out – meaning that they would no longer require planning permission and could instead award them under ‘permitted development’ – it was clear that this resistance was more important than ever!
My time at both Maple Farm camp (my home for the trip) and the site entrance (the heart of the resistance) left my brain stuffed full. I learnt about the wider importance of fracking resistance for the rest of the UK; the continued local struggles and the impact that fracking would have on their daily lives, identities, and house prices. I learnt about the ins and outs of the fracking process, and the connections it may or may not have to nuclear waste… And I saw how much energy, love and support was being poured into the anti-fracking movement.
Hearing first hand about this anti-fracking battle was of course inspiring, but if I’m being honest, I had heard it all before. UKYCC have been following the gas movement closely, and with the launch of our own #CleanGasKissMyAss campaign it has been nearly impossible for me to avoid discussion of fracking. Therefore, I already knew about the situation at Preston New Road, the inspiring activism, and the difficult details of fracking.
What then (I hear you ask), was this new rhetoric?
Well, quite simply put, it was this: The #UnitedResistance at Preston New Road, is not about fracking. It is about protecting democracy, demonstrating people power, and standing up to the government’s attempts to destroy our environment.
And THAT was something I could get behind.
The details of fracking are deliberately complex. They aren’t easy to understand, they aren’t particularly interesting and they contribute to a narrative of: “that doesn’t affect me”.
Similarly, anti-fracking isn’t being picked up by the press in the same way that plastic is. There are no obvious individual steps to take to combat it, and if you live in Scotland like me, it might not even be legal in your country. So why does it matter?
Because this campaign sets a precedent for all future attempts by government to go over our heads and “do it anyway”. The resilience and persistence of the anti-fracking movement sends a clear message to the government that our democracy shall be valued, and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it so.
Direct action resistance doesn’t have to be about breaching the peace. In my experience it was about a large group of passionate, inspiring and motivated individuals coming together to protect something bigger than themselves. It was about dancing on the side of the road, watching documentaries, sharing stories, and spreading love.
I can’t claim that I now enjoy discussing the fine details of fracking – who am I kidding? BUT…
A protest that supports our democracy, our environment, and sends a message to the government that #WeShallNotBeMoved, coupled with laughter, love and infectious energy… now THAT is exciting!!
If like me, Fracking didn’t initially get you jumping out of your seat, I hope this reflection on my time at PNR might change your mind. If I was successful, then you might be wondering where to look to support the movement… If I wasn’t, well… I’ll try harder next time!
Here are some ideas for how you too can get behind the movement:
1. Tweet your MP
At Parliament.UK you can find the twitter handle for your local MP and let them know that there is #NoRoomForGas in the UK’s Energy Future. Some tweet ideas are as follows:
Dear @______, it’s time to wake up to the realities of democracy and put a stop to fracking permissions becoming Permitted Development. How many times do we need to tell you that there is #NoRoomForGas in our energy future? #CleanGasKissMyAss
Dear @______. The work at #PrestonNewRoad has demonstrated #peoplepower at its finest – will you demonstrate your power too? Put a stop to proposals to change Fracking permits to Permitted Development! #CleanGasKissMyAss #NoRoomForGas
2. Spread the Word
The more that people learn about the situation at Preston New Road, the more people power we can channel into this valuable movement. Every share counts! You could retweet content from @frackfreelancs, @UnitedResist, @reclaimthepower and of course @ukycc. Share your thoughts on Facebook, Instagram, in a blog or a video. Get creative – and get mobilised about our democracy!
3. Sign a Petition
Frack Free Lancashire have a bunch of petitions running which you can contribute to: Frack Free Lancashire Actions and share if you are feeling extra motivated! To stay up to date with these movementsyou can also sign up to the Frack Free Lancashire Newsletter
4.Visit Preston New Road
The work at Preston New Road doesn’t just end with the United Resistance. They are always welcome to volunteers, and if like me you need a kick up the ass to get you motivated – this might be the very thing you need! Take a look here to find out more.
Author: Eilidh Robb