Last weekend we joined Reclaim The Power and anti fracking communities in Lancashire for the final push of their month long ‘Rolling Resistance’ protest against fracking at Preston New Road, Lancashire. This was the perfect place to have our first team weekend after recently deciding that one of our goals for the coming year would be to involve ourselves with more offline activism. This weekend was particularly relevant as Friday’s mass action was a carnival centred around the theme of future generations, which gave us the opportunity to speak about the importance of youth in the climate movement.
Despite the day’s protest beginning at 7:30am, there was still so much energy by the time I arrived in the early afternoon, and it did not waver even when everything wrapped up after 6:30pm. It was definitely one of the most lively demos I’ve attended with everyone dancing, singing, sharing circus skills, cheering the uncountable passing cars that honked their support, and teaching each other breakdancing moves; an atmosphere that withstood the afternoon rain. The sheer amount of energy that each individual brought was enough to prevent any work or deliveries from taking place at the fracking site; bringing what I’m sure was a welcome break after days of locking on outside the gates and, perhaps most importantly, delaying climate change inducing fossil fuel extraction for yet another day.
I was unable to make it until this final weekend but Friday night’s roundup of the month of action certainly made me wish I had been there. It really highlighted the dedication everyone, including councillors who had denied permission to frack in the area, had to the cause; from taking obvious risks such as locking on and ‘lorry surfing’ (using bodies to physically prevent fracking materials being delivered to the site) to the behind the scenes time and energy intensive support for the camp and for those who were taking non-violent direct action. Not to mention the fact that people were using their holiday time to do the very opposite of relaxing on a warm beach (although Blackpool is only a short bus ride away!).
On a more personal level it was a well needed reminder of the tangible struggles and desperation of people on the frontlines of climate action in our country. Something that can become increasingly less salient when interning at a large NGO based in a London office, or campaigning on less physically imposing environmental issues such as fossil fuel divestment. This weekend also served as a reminder that climate injustice is not just something that those in the ‘far away’ Global South face, but an issue that also affects communities on our doorstep within the UK. The proposed fracking in Lancashire is not just an environmental issue, it will affect the livelihoods of locals through poor water quality, loss of green space which is good for mental and physical health, and other impacts associated with climate change more generally. But what crucially makes this a climate justice issue is the fact that fracking in the area is in direct conflict with democracy (in 2015 Lancashire County Council refused permission for Cuadrilla to frack at two proposed sites but this was later overturned by Westminster). Whilst our work as the International Team shifts our focus towards the COP negotiations and a macro-level analysis of climate justice, it is important not to lose sight of these local issues, even if they give us only an inkling of the atrocities occurring against communities and the natural environment across the rest of the globe.
In short, whilst I’ve never doubted it, being at Preston New Road this weekend truly made me proud to be on the right side of the fracking site fence, and on the right side of history.
by Shaan Jindal