“The loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin'”
True words there from the young Dylan, and relevant right now as the dust is yet to settle on an election with no clear winner.
And relevant for us anti-frackers, who are committed to keep going until we win, regardless of election results.
In the party manifestos it was clear who stood where on fracking (in England anyway, the DUP and Plaid Cymru didn’t mention it). Labour, Lib Dems and Green Party all said they would ban it; UKIP invest in fracking but not allow it in AONBs and national parks; the Tories fast-track fracking with a dedicated industry regulator and removal of planning hurdles – such as any need for planning permission for most drilling.
And yet none of this received any attention on a media consumed with terrorism, immigration, Brexit and petty personal attacks. The potential for vast tracts of Britain across 165 constituencies becoming heavily industrialised within the next five to 20 years? Not a story, not news-worthy, not immediate enough. Had Cuadrilla managed to complete its frack site on time and then created a disaster that MIGHT have attracted some interest. It’s thanks to protectors at Preston New Road we are not yet at this high-risk stage. But the drill is on its way, and the onus is on all the politicians elected on anti-fracking tickets and us rabble outside the sphere of public office to deliver what their party manifestos or they individually have pledged, and the time is now.
What kind of spectacle, other than a horrific one, would attract the media’s attention? Because in order to get a ban – as Ireland just has (another almost unreported story by the British media) – we could use some mass awareness-raising.
While millions stayed up way past their bedtime to watch the election results coming in, nine people were on shift… locked on outside the “gates to hell”, Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. If any one of those bleary-eyed politicos stumbled upon a livefeed showing protectors at work, they’d be wrong to consider this merely a local issue. Lancashire now, Yorkshire and many other places tomorrow.
In order to carry out their fast-track fracking mission, the Conservatives will need to introduce a new Bill. Who knows how soon they might try this on?
There are others in our movement who are much closer to the parliamentary bubble than I am… I invite their comments or messages on how we can get a ban asap through the corridors of power, as chaotic as they currently are.
Somehow, we need to ensure people see fracking not as an abstract, remote threat but a disaster waiting to happen and very soon unless we manage to hold them off. When I was chatting to Simon Clough from Bentley, Australia, he said there had been 60 wells before people started campaigning. Here this has only not happened because of campaigning – but we have yet to reach critical mass. We need critical mass now and not later… just 100 people can bring PNR to a standstill for a day, but even these numbers can’t be sustained every day at the moment. Ideally there needs to be 100 people per day at Billingshurst in West Sussex too , and larger vigils at other sites which have planning permission.
“You can’t talk – you’re not there!” I hear you… What I’m hoping to do is to help bring about critical mass from my remote bunker, and find the most effective way of getting politicians to act on our behalf and get a legal ban. If Ireland can do it, so can we.