Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Day 20 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 20 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people witnessed NO truck arrivals at all due to an all-day feat of endurance by 4 visiting Protectors who locked together at the site entrance around 7:30am and were not removed till after 4pm. A heck of a demand on them physically that did what they intended, prevented all deliveries – we were astounded then to see 5 Armstrongs trucks parked to leave (unable to do so for some time due to lock-on). According to residents, these arrived at 6:50am, more on that later. Due to the action the area was by early afternoon, under a ‘Section 14’ order from the police which seemed essentially to limit the number of people on the lock-on side of the street; the atmosphere was fuelled at points to boiling with intense policing, lots of shouting and new scenes constantly unfolding amidst a kaleidoscopic array of Protectors, of all persuasions in all sorts of positions.

So there is no ‘usual’ in the world of activism/campaigning, I have never dealt with more varied challenges in any other role or place in my life; not all good or all bad, just a fact of this. Surprises are frequent, new situations inevitable and thinking on your feet, the best you can hope for. That we all think very differently and have different feet – adds to the sense of chaos too that comes with all this. Of course there are differences of perspective as well and to know more of today, you can watch hosts of videos, read tons of posts and view thousands of images but to get a true view – the only way really is to live it as you. My *perspective here on the blog is mine alone…. 

*Other perspectives are available ;)

The Protectors who locked on this morning, stopped the fracking industry from progressing another day and for that there is huge gratitude from all who want this industry halted. For years, people have locked-on, slow-walked and occupied in order to achieve delays like today and the cumulative effect is that this industry comes with an ugly reputation for bringing trouble, is starved of income, weighed down with costs and… looks less attractive to investors. We’ve been amazing as a movement at holding this back.

Our government though has muscled further in now and overthrown our democracy in its eagerness; it‘s determined to get fracking underway and PNR is the first site with planning approval (exclusively by Westminster) for a production site (as opposed to other test sites) that is underway. Things have changed and we as activists/campaigners/Protectors, know that the clock is ticking - delaying is no longer enough and nor are we. There are a lot of licenses in the UK and combined with government might, this year will stretch us if we don’t find additional ways and more people, willing and able to get involved. Direct actions to delay, now need to morph into actions that stop this industry completely – and to do that, we need to make these actions accessible to a lot more people in every community so that if the threat comes, we don’t have to ‘call the Protectors’ – because there won’t be enough right now to go round.

Since the first few days of being at PNR and seeing how many residents took the step into this world of activism, I have felt so honoured to stand beside them and concerned too because I know how much this means their lives will dramatically change. Nothing is the same once you know a truth like this because at no point, no matter how hard the task we face, can you give up. go home and forget about it. This is not a fad, a lifestyle choice or a temporary thing – this is a threat to our lives and the lives of our children. We’re stuck. We’re all stuck with the same stuff of obligation, responsibility and honour. Lives in turmoil, spare time no longer ‘spare’ but instead set aside for action to stop fracking. Ridiculous hours online learning, sharing, getting to know the shape of the threat and ourselves as the thing that stands as the only thing to stop it.

Take the lady this morning who witnessed the early deliveries. She’s discovered her deep rage; a rage that will force her into further activism because she knows, she’s being lied to, she has no say in her democracy and that the health and wellbeing of her family are worth less to this government, than shareholder profit for Cuadrilla. She alerted:

" Well. I have my phone call to my husband asking him to tweet on my account about the lorries and that was 06.58. I then saw a truck from Maple Farm and told them to let the people there know that the lorries we there. There was nobody there. They got 3 of the 5 straight onto the field and two others waited and the traffic was stopped both ways. How could the 3 have driven straight in?? Liars. I'm more than happy to give my evidence. But Armstrongs will have journey and time logs....required by law (and the VAT Man). They had to swing wide to form the end of the queue into the field as they were right on top of the entrance before they stopped".

A country of angry, enabled residents… now that’s a picture of power in our communities lol. Not all our residents are able to lock-on though some are amazingly good by virtue of age and ability to slow-walk. Not all our residents are able to risk arrest but they are fabulous at winning the hearts and minds of others who are new and gently ease them into the sheer drop of activism. We are many but those who can do what was done today – are few. There are other ways we need to create so we can grow and succeed.

Some wear their strength of conviction and determination on the outside… for others, though less visible… it is there smoldering just as deep. I did a check of those at the roadside who gather most days and are here every ‘spare’ moment… I asked what they would do if the drill came and was going to start? “I’ll be under it” was the reply from every person there. Just because there are smiles, cake, music and friendliness – doesn’t mean there isn’t intent… just that between now and lying down under the drill, we are pulling in our community to enhance our movement with their bodies and more importantly, their valued input because we need all we can get to draw a line in the sand and stop an entire industry.

There are too many sad and angry moments at the roadside of PNR – but they aren’t strong and so easily fall away with the warm hug of a new arrival, Dawn and her kids passing in the car doing "Roar like a Dinosaur!!" shouts daily, fresh cookies through car windows, the shout of ‘Good Job!’ when I thought he’d said ‘getta job’, the giggle of a gaggle of us as a police driving instructor started a manoeuvre on this single lane, body-filled, police-packed zone – we heard a nearby policeman say “Guess he didn’t get the memo”… and the power of the genuine laughter and warmth that we are bathed in between those (feeble) sad and angry moments. See you tomorrow?

*Highlight humour of the day when a lovely Protector who came equipped with a shovel, was lifting the dirt from the pavement. I asked her what she was doing as she said “Excavating.” I asked if she had found anything and she replied: “Yes. A late 20th century pavement”

*Image thanks to Dave Ellison

Monday, 30 January 2017

Day 19 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 19 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were gifted a slow one complete with spontaneous actions and delays by Protectors from early, till beyond finish; when a sneaky extra truck tried to glide in. Thankfully there are always some who stay longer to put away signs, collect litter and watch for the sneaky extra breaches Cuadrilla rely on to counter delays.

So it was a day of many bits rather than a more easily described flow… blogging this morphing beast of a thing offers easy and hard ones to wrap in words; today is one of the hard ones. Social posts over the weekend had indicated that the day would start with early actions by some who were coming to join us. There was a call too for ‘Legal Observers’ that made the day sound more ominous than it turned out. However it happened though, the schedule of arrivals was low (perhaps in response to online activity suggesting trouble for them?) and for each of the mere 5 trucks that came, they experienced delays ahead of entering the work lane, as well as the slow-walks within it. Spontaneous other tactics by Protectors included delaying the exit of the first truck of the day that had shot in before time, holding back the fence from being pulled out and rather elegant dancing that delayed a staff vehicle.

We had set off earlier than usual and were nearly there when a truck whizzed past (around 8:40) and shot into the site – before the Traffic Management was in place and against the plan. Those who stayed at the end noted the late truck too that was not scheduled or within time. These continued breaches may sound small individually but amount to daily abuses of planning that make clear, Cuadrilla will not abide by rules, will be impossible for regulators (with limited resources and powers) to stay on top of …and are being given a free rein by Westminster. A few of the Councillors who fought hard for the rejection of planning that Westminster overthrew, are with us most days and are able to take what is witnessed back and contribute to the legal challenges – all legal challenges benefit from new evidence and Cuadrilla are providing a smorgasbord of justification for Lancashire’s rejection of them.

A number of Protectors who want to support the daily actions have come and are staying nearby; adding to the daily actions and unfolding picture. What a picture it is becoming, a patchwork or a jigsaw maybe… where the bits come from many boxes and are still trying to find a way of being side by side and making something of worth. It’s not easy.

None of this is easy. It is actually really bloody psychologically hard. People from different lives and influences, sharing a goal but struggling with the integration that is demanded by where we are and what we are seeking to achieve. Another analogy… it’s like we’re all heading to the same place, on the same road… but some of us are swimming and others skating lol! I hope one day we dance ..on the space Cuadrilla came to conquer but failed.

We absolutely share our anger and outrage though. This is visceral – it’s in the air, it’s in our tones of voice, it’s in our bellies burning – in some this anger is loud, shouting and reacting and within others, it is festering, fermenting and formulating to a set point – we differ in this most. The anger though is an ugly place to be this often and the moments of warmth, humour and humanity couldn't be more precious.

Been a long up and down one so I’ll stop here. Just to say though that due to concerns we were without music today but will be sure we aren’t tomorrow – it is blessed solace to be uplifted from the angry by beautiful sounds. See you tomorrow?

*Personal highlight of the day… fellow Protector of ordinarily calm exterior, finally releasing the anger with “No more Mrs. Nice Xxxxx” after a particularly nasty encounter with a red-faced angry man from the skip hire company. She will know the moment and understand how it brought the humour that followed x

Saturday, 28 January 2017

F*ck you Cuadrilla...

 ps... realised there was one last bit stuck before I could put the week away - it's out now and I can sleep xxx<3 span="">

Fuck You Cuadrilla

Fuck you Cuadrilla
For the theft of lives
The years of lies
The shite you bring
The tales you spin
The show of might
The taste of spite
The way you drag me
Lower me
To the beneath me
Of you
Your vile ways
Aren’t mine
Your abuse
Beyond my ability
To see what you do as possible
As actually do-able
As what you do!
You play roulette with people, with futures, with hopes, dreams and happiness
You line us up like random targets
And don’t give a damn what gets knocked down
So long as your’e still standing
You dig your claws
We dig our heels
You’ll kneel before we will
You’ll fail before any drill
Touches the space between my body and this Lancashire soil
You CANNOT stop true people
PROTECTING, defending, safe-guarding, cherishing and holding dear
…our children!
What depths you imagine you can reach are nothing
Nothing to the heights, lengths and breadths that the diversity of us
Will go
To stop you
You will not win
Because we won’t stop till you lose

Friday, 27 January 2017

Final thoughts tonight...

Closing down the world for the night and my final thoughts on the week are that we as people, are caring and driven to protect - that's why we're activists. Changing our nature to match that of those we oppose, would be a huge loss …and limiting our creativity to set-moves in a game they know inside out – would be a missed opportunity.

To all who stood at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest this week, it was an honour to share the space and intent xxx

Day 18 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 18 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were gifted what is maybe best described as an ‘allsorts’ sort of day where roadside Protectors at PNR were joined in solidarity by visiting Protectors from Southport and Yorkshire; creating an array of colour and fabulous company. Some who visited joined the slow-walks or roadside demonstration that happen daily here from 9:30-3 (this is the 18th day of work on the site) and others chose their own actions; with one under a truck at the start of the day and two who locked onto the fencing at the end of the day and were I hear arrested; I had left by that point.

So the tally for slow-walks was again 8 trucks today but no road sweeper to walk at the end due to the lock-ons. Primarily tarmac was arriving to start layering this heavy-duty site road to prepare it for the intense weight and volume of vehicles that are scheduled to come. Within a few weeks, up to 50 aggregate vehicles are due daily – at this stage, residents/Protectors will not be able to slow-walk in the space we are in, without putting lives at risk (due to busy road but primarily the ambulance route that is vital) but other disruptive ways have been discussed amongst those at the roadside and verbally passed to visitors. PUPs (Pop Up Protests) are also planned by Protectors able to get to the set-off points at quarries, in order to reduce the number of arrivals at PNR. And then there's all those unknown-unkonwns!

The Emergency Plan came back into force today when the Protector went under the truck in the morning; this meant that other trucks were now permitted to enter from other directions not on the Traffic Management Plan, including arriving through the top fence. At one point the fencing was parted at its centre though to release a truck and it’s unclear if this is permitted in any circumstances and certainly seemed a dangerous manoeuvre. The County Council Officer was on duty much of the time so I’d be surprised if he wasn’t aware... whether it bothers him enough to add to all the other Cuadrilla breaches, I sadly doubt.

Fortunately the Residents’ Groups here ensure evidence of breaches is provided to the Council and is logged. Another issue with an ambulance came in the afternoon when it ran the red light heading up PNR – to encounter 5 vehicles coming head on and with no space to move across… not helped by one of the drivers failing to even notice any of this was happening. Mentioning again that this is a ‘Blue Light’ road for ambulances – in other words, the patient is close to death and this is the priority route between our two major hospitals at Preston and Blackpool. Cuadrilla are dangerous in all ways to our health and wellbeing :(

The entire area was very different today, partly due to the visitors but also because the policing changed in response to the actions and the atmosphere was charged. Stopping an industry as powerful as this was never going to be easy. Here in the UK though, Protectors across the country have done just this and are continuing to do it – there are no fracking production sites in operation. Slow-walking trucks, lock-ons, planning objections, legal challenges and more have been our tools and although sites still got built, delay has cost time, money and investor confidence. Cuadrilla threatened they’d be in full production by 2013, then 2014, then 2015 etc and now by next year… we haven’t gone away, we have grown more numerous and despite what we see, we actually WON and their planning was rejected – the deficit of democracy is all that got them back here.

No idea exactly how we end up stopping this – just that we don’t stop until we do. My view is that what we’ve done over the years has been successful but that now- it’s not going to be enough – there needs to be other ways and the diversity of them I think will be key. At PNR we are joined daily by many residents who have come to be active for the first time and are finding their own ways to contribute to this movement – the new voices bring new ways and fresh ideas as well as reinforcement and the value of this is immeasurable. … new is good and may be a vital ingredient to the final killer recipe for success.

Thanks so much to Frack Free Scarborough and Frack Free Southport for your energy, passion and solidarity today :)

It's finally the end of a long week at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest that has brought ups, downs and a multitude of other directional emotions… next week beckons after blissful duvet time. See you Monday?

*Image highlight of the day: a simple remembering the beauty of our green fields …now being chewed up and spat back as industrial vomit.

*Thank you Ros for the image x

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Day 17 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 17 in the Cuadrilla house… and the good people adapted to changes, briefly (about 30 seconds) lost control of the situation, got it back, laughed, witnessed semi-nudity (these last two things may be related lol!), sustained ourselves on a new coldest-day where the winds brought the chill into minus figures and almost played football – which with hindsight, was never going to be a realistic thing.

So on arrival we could see the traffic cones marking off the lane but no fence in place yet: as on a few days now, a resident had stopped the fence from coming out due to issues with breaches of planning and as we started to gather at the roadside, we were informed by site staff that the slow-walks couldn’t happen because of the situation with the fence.

Hmmm ...we paused for a moment to consider options, remembered who was right in all this and were about to go get in front of a truck anyway – when we noticed a lovely Protector with a Frack Free Lancashire sign had already brought the first truck to a halt within the work-lane.

We joined him and were asked by police if we could move forward as a second truck had nudged in but was sticking out into traffic… we edged forward for safety sake and said we would do our slow-walks. “Still the 15 minutes?” we were asked; we considered this and at that moment a bloody third truck rocked in behind the newly positioned second one and they wanted us to go forward to accommodate. NO then to any 15 minutes. They should have waved this third one on due to safety so we were now going to let it nudge in but would take as long as possible reaching the site entrance. Popped the music on at this point so we could slow-walk in style and in song.

Two hours later the trucks went in (well actually one of them broke down and had to lay lifeless and unemptied at the side) and the fence was brought out… about a half hour later came a truck, we walked to the fence, they opened and our rhythm of slow-walks continued as it has on previous days. Total trucks slow-walked in on the day was sort of 8… with 1 broken-down and 1 ‘wrong address’ lol! Ooo and of course… the road-sweeper.

After yesterday’s odd atmosphere and deficit of joy, it was clear from the growing numbers of smiling faces, new signs and enthusiasm – that NOTHING is going to be allowed to bring us down, slow us up or diminish what we truly are.I felt such gratitude for the spirit of fellow Protectors today and the ones who I KNOW showed up because of concern about my post yesterday - thank you for the warm glow of you that made yesterday fade into the shadows

A surprising sight for this time of year greeted me during the long slow-walk at the start, when a Garstang cyclist who had joined us, started removing layer after layer of clothing! When he’d got down to cycle-shorts only, he put on a lovely apron and announced he was going to be a Nana… I pointed out that Nanas ordinarily wear thermals and are rarely topless… this did not hinder his enthusiasm and he remained near-naked for a good half hour or so despite the temperature. Certainly one for the memory box that is forever now seared into my eyes.

Lots of lovely roadside conversations happened and much new information was shared as well as gathered as a friendly drone operator captured images of the site for us. Later in the day a lawyer for the police arrived, we think this is because there is talk of what happens when the fence goes, along with the temporary traffic lights and single lane traffic – around 7-10 days from now. Clearly at that point, we won't be slow-walking in the works-lane anymore as it won't exist. So new ways and ideas are being discussed - all input welcome.


Residents have looked at plans and noted that despite the new, private site-road that is emerging, there is still the first 6ft or so of it that counts as public footpath and alongside that, the cycle lane. The opportunity for walkers, cyclists and residents to stroll or ride these areas means it would be a struggle to turn trucks into the site. Trucks stopping to wait, will be nearly impossible on this busy road and the challenges highlighted by residents at the Planning and Appeal stages of this, will be obvious and confirm why our Council REJECTED the planning application. This disruption combined with 'PUPs' (Pop Up Protests) at supplier points of origin of trucks... will lead to more delays, more frustration for AE Yates and Cuadrilla, more distress from investors and more breaches that will be witnessed and documented for the pending legal challenges.

Day done now and so looking forward to tomorrow when we have visitors from the newly formed Frack Free Southport as well as friends from Frack Free Scarborough… can’t tell you how much these visits mean to Protectors at the roadside. The fact that others travel to be here in solidarity warms and refreshes us – there is so little we can do to make it welcoming though really; it is a cold road, no seating, no kettle… but there is love, joy, laughter, music, honks of support and snacks/sweets gifted through car windows as they pass. See you tomorrow?

*Playlist highlight of the day… Blue Moonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vr0amOKCHoduring the long slow-walk where we had more space and each Protector in the front of the trucks or on the footpath, was swaying and smiling – nearly asked a fellow Protector to dance, got so caught in the moment lol! Another day down the rabbit-hole of ‘Whatever next?’

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Day 16 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 16 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people shivered at the roadside in fewer numbers than usual this freezing morning. There was an unsettling of mood that combined with more rapid truck movements and the shaping of new kerbs that meant we seemed more on edge; or maybe it was just me ‘feeling’ more today?. Fresh arrivals of sunshine and smiling faces around lunchtime and throughout the afternoon, lifted spirits, brought sumptuous lemon drizzle cake and the truly welcomed gift of cough medicine from our ‘Herbalist to the Protectors’ … but talk was of change to come and ways to deal with it.

So it seems the site is being pressured to up their game and in the absence of Saturday work (permitted on planning but not yet undertaken – we suspect due to less police availability on match days) Cuadrilla’s contractor AE Yates of Bolton, managed to bring in 5 trucks by 11 o’clock and a total of 10 on the day – the highest number yet. We slow-walked each and the road-sweeper at the end but there was no satisfaction in witnessing the shaping of the kerbs on this Cuadrilla road to hell.

The melancholy of the morning may be more about my mood but I sensed it in other Protectors at the roadside too; in fact I’m sensing this post will not be as pleasant as usual, apologies. It would be unnatural I suppose for us not to be suffering turmoil emotionally as we witness the thing we have dreaded, fought and held at bay – clawing up through the farmland before our eyes each and every day. The entire movement online too, seems awash with anger. Of course we’re angry; this is assault, an attack, an abuse of our right to protect our young, to nourish their futures with fresh water, clean air and a democracy fit for bloody purpose. In the absence of the actual assailants, we turn on each other, critique our methods, wonder at motives, challenge intent and gnaw away at our bonds… because we’re fuming and the genuine enemy, is cloaked and unreachable.

This industry has no moral core, no part of it that looks into our children’s eyes and puts their needs above all else… it self-regulates to the lowest standards, runs rings round our politicians (who will later be employed by them) and has command of law-makers who bend at its whim – we Protectors on the other hand act from our clear and certain moral core, defend our young at the expense of all else and yet – we impose the highest demands on each other, insist on results, work our unpaid selves beyond tired and still expect more. THIS is why we are angry… and although understandable, it hurts when this rage spills like acid onto each other.

The kerb stones are weaving an entrance and behind them, diggers eat away at the green fields, leaving mounds of dirt and metal fencing in their wake – the business of un-beautifying nature is the ugliest process; stripping off layers of adornment, seasons in the making. Beautiful opportunist birds sieze the upside though, flocking to feast on once hidden little critters freshly exposed. I wanted to cry, watching the man in the digger. We’d spoken earlier and smiled; I know he is not with a union, has no other job prospect and has a family to feed and house… I don’t know how to change this fact that means he is hurting my grandchild with every new gouge in the earth.

I looked across at my sister and she was waving, smiling, rousing ‘honks of support’ and I know, although she would not be anywhere else because this matters so much – that she wishes she was. What we do is sad… why we do it, is obligation and so we have to find the smiles, the kindness and the truth of each other if we are to get through the hardest bit of this. In 6 years, I have watched us tear and mend countless times… we get stronger every time.

Big thanks to those who stayed a little longer today as we didn’t trust that no more trucks would come. My sister and I had to leave at 3 but came back at 3:40 when we heard two trucks were on their way. They were pulled over a bit before the site and we drove past to see the temporary traffic lights being removed and no opening for them as the fencing had been pulled back… think the site rejected the late arrivals and was perhaps encouraged in this by the big car that would have prevented them letting anything in anyway. A local resident and Protector had decided to help them make their decision with inappropriate yet useful parking!

For me today, a low - but I know it will lift when warm Protectors meet at the roadside again and the kindness online, finds its way into my veins… see you tomorrow?

*Sign of the day in picture… honest, straightforward, to the point

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Day 15 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 15 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were more numerous, more vibrant and growing closer; we welcomed energetic cyclists from Garstang, new and familiar Lancaster visitors and enjoyed a Nana-yellow-glow that comes as standard when we have a nice gaggle of us together. As the hours and days multiply, we have begun tying yellow wool, ribbons and trinkets to the hedge across from the site – showing another shift done by a Protector and appreciated by the many who watch this unfold…

So it was a day of trying to catch-up for the site team that ended (I expect) with an unsatisfied feeling along with the early finish to truck arrivals; just 5 HGVs, 2 small equipment transporters and a road-sweeper for us to slow-walk today. Different companies were represented and no vehicles were seen with ‘AE Yates’ on them – a repercussion of the halting of trucks at source perhaps? Thankfully we are pretty nimble as a movement and as new company livery is noted, other Protectors are encouraged to participate if they are in the area of origin. Some at the roadside have been making a list that I will check on for sharing.

One of the delights found in this ghastly business, is to watch as residents or visitors come to get involved in protecting this community and discover… their inner-Activist. A thing of beauty and hope to behold. Over these past 15 days, I got the joy of witnessing this in front of the trucks – more than a dozen times now. Once you stand up, it becomes impossible to sit back and be quiet again… so what happens here at the PNR roadside, becomes the seed of actions in the future too.

I recall finding my’ inner-Activist’ - the part of myself that refused to be taken for a ride anymore. In 2011 I grew so angry with the road our government had us on where we bailed out banks but took it back off the disabled and chipped away at our NHS and other services; where wars clearly entered into with lies – went un-challenged, un-apologised, un-corrected and unbearably, still causing suffering and where I couldn’t work out how to be heard… and I just stopped doing whatever I usually did next, got a tent and went to learn what this ‘Occupy’ thing was about.

For me, Occupy was and remains, about learning and unlearning – about discovering the richness in others who also stopped ‘going for the ride’ and understanding how our differences can enrich us; the divisions are what prevent us having the power to impact those who need a damned good impacting. Returning from the occupation outside the London Stock Exchange (at the steps of St. Pauls), I walked in my front door to discover information about a new ‘Natural Gas’ boom coming our way in Lancashire… rather wish I’d ignored it!

Today was cold but not damp and there was a genuine sense of happiness throughout. It's such a relief to have music and smiles rather than the shouting and brutality that has hallmarked much of what we do as we strive to keep the UK frack-free. The community here respects and appreciates what we do too and how we do it – showing this with continuous honks of support that resonate in the ears long after we leave the site. Things though will change and all this, will look very different in a few weeks.

As the stages of work come and go (currently only at road-building stage), altering the processes as well as the shape of the site, our responses too will adapt. This is not a short, sharp thing… this is an industry we're seeking to stop, not just a building project. Ideas are being discussed amongst all sorts of groups and Protectors and what is possible to share, I will. Much though will be done by others who have their own plans… we all passionately seek the same thing; just people protecting the stuff of life that we ALL depend on… our air and water. There's no outline on how to do this, no job description and no obvious ‘next step’ – it’s a bumpy, unpredictable road we’re on now.

We’re getting a lovely visit on Friday from Scarborough Protectors, can’t wait. In the meantime, see you tomorrow? x

ps... if you can bring yellow ribbon or wool when you visit, to tie on the hedge it would add to our gorgeous, growing collage.

*Playlist highlight of the day… Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7jZeXvpyZQ), swayed to by all who could hear it – impossible to stay still. Looking at the scene, complete with soundtrack and realise I know nothing… so much to learn xxx

Monday, 23 January 2017

Signs, Singers, and Shafting...

Day 14 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were joined by others in voice, in the flesh and elsewhere, in solidarity actions that empowered those involved and added spirit to an uplifting day at the roadside. Despite the coldest temperature of all the days and a persistent, niggly little drizzle that worked its way in through fabric, skin and bone… hearts were warmed at the sight of the jubilant, accordion-equipped Liverpool Socialist Singers making their way toward us.

So the day started as it was to continue, slow; no sign of a truck till 11:15 and only a total of 7 for the day at its end. The reason was clear when a Protector who had spent his early morning slow-walking some trucks at their start point of AE Yates of Bolton, came to the roadside and soon after, slow-walked the same trucks into the PNR site. Nice. This strategy of slowing the trucks at origin is looking like it will be an effective addition to the ever-evolving tactics being devised, to stop not just this site from development but the entire industry from progressing.

For 6 years now fracking has been halted in the UK… due solely to public pressure – that’s us, the Protectors of our communities who raised our voices, called meetings, leafleted, researched, shared information, lobbied politicians, wrote letters, signed petitions, set up camps, slowed-trucks, spoke at Planning meetings and Appeals and so much more . If passion, creativity and determination alone were enough to stop fracking… it would have been all over years ago. Sadly the system of government is in on the act and working with the frackers, against the people. It’s no longer even pretending to focus on democracy but instead has put itself at the service of industry and is even willing to create laws to help lubricate it into our lives.

It’s exhausting, soul-destroying and so sad sometimes. Yesterday I went for a nice family meal, been ages since I did and although it was lovely, it left me realising how much is missed and how much has been sacrificed by those of us who spend our time this way. I wonder too what those who work to get fracking underway think?

The politicians, shareholders, employees, contractors etc. do they imagine we are all crazed fools of no intelligence who just decided to sacrifice all spare hours to stop an industry because…? Because what? Pharmacists, aeronautics engineers, teachers, midwives, academics and all manner of others stand on our roadsides – couple this with countless fracking bans across the world and you have to wonder at what point, moral obligation and sense kicks in for those who serve the frackers. Our children are relying on us to leave them safe air and water… and maybe a voice in their democracy – fracking will steal all these things.

However… for all that is lost and all that is missed from a once-upon-a-time life, there is richness, little-miracles, kindness and joy in this world of activism that I wouldn’t exchange. Today’s smiles were brought to us by those singers from Liverpool who bothered; who got up on a rainy miserable day and journeyed all the way to PNR to sing us happy… they succeeded with bells on (and an accordion). Visits are more than just a chance to see each other face to face – they are a hug of solidarity and shared commitment.

Thank you Liverpool Socialist Singers and the Protectors in Bolton for all you did today xxx

*Thanks to Ros for image of new sign - someone suggested replacing the word 'putting' with 'shafting'

*Playlist highlight of the day… Elbow – One Day Like This. I tried to do interesting things with my board like the video linked herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NFV8dHrZYM– I failed but may secretly rehearse alone lol

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Rocks, hard places and the strange in-between bits...

I received an email from a group who have for a long time, tried to slow vehicles carrying live animals in appalling conditions - they risk their lives on busy, dangerous roads in order to disrupt and to gather evidence. They wanted to know how we managed to be slowing vehicles without being attacked or in danger. My reply to them below, I hope will help clarify any confusion here too:

...this is a tense, strange and unpredictable thing unfolding and each day brings a new challenge... we at the roadside each day on Preston New Road are having to think quick and work together to deal with each thing as it happens. I update each day on the Blog which may offer some insight - but in a nutshell the whole facilitated slow-walk came about like this:

Originally the road was marked as single lane with cones for 9:30am-3pm as per the Traffic Management Plan (TMP) and there was nothing really to deal with until they had been on the site for 4 days (weekend included) and on Day 4 they introduced Harras Fencing - the say now that they did this because of trouble with protesters - which is a lie, trouble didn't come till after the workers dragged the fencing from along the hedge where it had been... toward where the cones marked the road.

Those protecting the area (Protesters = Protectors - at this stage primarily female and retired people)) stood against the fencing but each panel we held had a security guard who shoved hard into our backs - on the final surge they stopped pushing, paused then literally shoved with might... we toppled forward into the path of oncoming traffic in the busy single lane.

Police who made clear that their role was to ensure safety for ALL people in the area (many of our residents' groups have met regularly with the police over the past 6 years and there is a clear understanding here of the situation - unlike elsewhere)... the police intervened but as they were trying to calm the situation - a truck shot past and against the TMP, started reversing down the works lane.

We ran to get behind it and the security guards started pushing the fencing so that they protected their area - but trapped us between fence and reversing truck - terrifying. Police were banging the truck door, security were shouting to stop and we were literally close to serious injury or death. I believe the truck driver was not of sound mind. One Protector who wasn't trapped but could see us, jumped onto the truck and despite a few sharp braking moves, she wasn't shaken off and the police finally halted the crazed driver.

The discussion between all involved at this point (including security guards who had also been at huge risk) concluded that this was deadly dangerous and could not continue. We insisted our right to peacefully protest - they insisted theirs to work. We said we were going to slow-walk regardless and as was shown in all the cases before this (Balcombe/Barton Moss etc) there was no point trying to stop us as the cases all get thrown out and we still keep slowing them. The police spoke to builders who agreed to facilitate this on the next vehicle - I think they wanted to ease the incredible tension and ugliness of the scen; some of our older residents were scared and in pain.

The site area at this stage is literally one-lane wide and about 4 HGVs deep... no space for much of a walk! We said other sites got 90 minutes but in reality, when we'd walked as slow as was humanly possible (so as not to be illegally blocking) - the most we could drag it to was 15 minutes. After this and no idea how it was discussed between the company and police, we were told we could do this for each delivery. We were as surprised as anyone but the idea of getting everything we could at this stage (got a way to go with baseline testing and building before fracking can start) and without attacks on our bodies - was something we seized. There was no 'agreement' made but as the next vehicle came, the fencing was opened for us to pass into the work area.... we are limited by space and HSE limits to number of people in it so were asked to keep our numbers to 15 or so. Although as we discovered recently - the numbers we are, doesn't change the situation ie: 2 of us did it when others were late to arrive.

I believe it all came about because the police had little choice but to let this be... the alternative is not safe and this way is and their only remit is to maintain safety - this is a major road, a 'blue light' route for the most urgent ambulances carrying the dying and unlike all the usual places frack sites are, heavily residential and ridiculously busy.

No deals were made, nothing discussed beyond our insistence that we would slow-walk - the safer alternative to being attacked by fences and angered truck drivers. So maybe it was simply that we made clear that the ONLY safe way is for police to work to allow our way because the alternative is an almost certain accident? Also... after 6 years of local action, they know we aren't going away.

We have to cross over from our position demonstrating, in order to go into the fenced area for the walk, which means waiting for the temporary traffic lights to change and if wheelchair users or the elderly are with us, then we need to help them over too. Time drags and Cuadrilla are behind schedule and growing frustrated and a bit humiliated at having Protectors dancing in their work area... we continue to be astounded too that this change of way has happened. The company had planned for 20+ trucks per day but have not got more that 8 in yet and we were on working day 13 on Friday.

Things will have to change by necessity when the single lane area eventually goes after the new road entrance to the site is completed... but even then - the plans show a public footpath crosses their entrance so there are opportunities still to maintain disruption and of course we are not the only Protectors working to stop this.... others have made a start on stopping vehicles leaving their point of origin, a communications blockade is organised to disrupt Cuadrilla and those that supply them and we know that if we don't delay enough to make investors withdraw (Cuadrilla in huge financial difficulty after producing nothing for 6 years) that we can and will call for 'A Bentley' (larger groups have offered to support this)... a Bentley is massive blockade that will stop them completely from doing any work. We cannot call for this too soon though as in order to be effective and lasting, we would need the timing to be right.

So each day we arrive and enter the fenced area to slow them - is indeed an odd and curious thing. We though are seizing the moments and opportunities to work on hearts and minds and to weave ourselves as Protectors - into a strong, united force that can handle changes to come.

Hope this helps xxx

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Failure, Shame, Humiliation & Confusion at a Fracking Site...

Thankfully at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest... there's nearly always a Councillor or two amongst us who will challenge the lies and CONTINUE to remind the frackers why #WeSaidNo, our Council said NO and the answer remains NO! Westminster can dance all over democracy but it doesn't change anything here.

This past few weeks has drawn the evil out of the fracking companies - into public view. They're behind schedule (not only on this project but ALL projects over past 6 years!); shamed by the contrast of their abuses of law with the genuine concern of Protectors; humiliated that the police/site staff/security stand aside for our slow-walks and because this is not how they usually have to play 'the game' - the chances of them continuing to drag themselves into the mud, is high.

Talking to my sister Julie a while back and said that I wasn't going to make the next move that usually happened in 'the game' and that if it was a chess board - I wanted to pay tiddly-winks on it instead; in order to shake off the pattern... this week things changed and I am sure I saw tiddly-winks.<3 span="">

This posted this morning from one of our Councillors (who is also a Protector):
[Got up this morning to several emails from Cuadrilla telling me that protesters have gone against agreements and closed the Rd At PNR, stopping emergency vehicles from gaining access!

They obviously don't realise I was in attendance at the time and their PR shit is not going to work on this occasion!

Very angry this morning at how they twist the truth, to Councillors]
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Friday, 20 January 2017

Day 13 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 13 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people found their individual ways to be heard, to impact this industry and to work together for great cumulative effect. Our movement is so very diverse, a kaleidoscope of humanity breathing out the same words – "They WILL NOT frack"… our steps are not all synched but our movements in the same direction, make the pull-and-push of us all, all the stronger. Much love for Protectors in all our shades and ways today x

So the day started with an excellent early action by strong-willed, principled Protectors at the entrance to the site on Preston New Road, rose through the day in good voice and fantastic mood at the roadside and for slow walks… then culminated in a gorgeous crescendo of activity at contractor AE Yates of Bolton – where Protectors gathered to make clear that this industry and those that enable it, will not be tolerated. An action now termed a 'Pop-up Protest'. Come on AE Yates – there are better contracts to have than the soiled, dangerous fracking one… this choice will only bring disruption.

The Day unfolded thus...

PNR Early Shift:
In the early hours of the morning, some concerned residents went to the Preston New Road site in order to carry out a well-considered action to prevent the intrusive site from taking up too much of this busy and important road. Over the week, the fencing and cones have gradually edged out, limiting the lane for traffic and worse, delays to ambulances. We have witnessed 3 delayed ambulances this week and in the absence of Council Planning Inspectors to enforce safety requirements, residents took the task into their own hands. The delay to work lasted over an hour and ended with the fencing in a less dangerous position …and the assurance of an Inspector to come and clarify the situation. Brilliant.

PNR Day Shift:
Protectors started arriving for the slow-walks and demonstration, part way through the ‘siege of the fence’ incident; lining up to receive the gift of ‘honks’, the joy of the music, the gratitude for our solidarity and growing friendships… and the absolute delight that a mere 3 trucks and 1 road sweeper arrived, were slow-walked and went. Almost literally no work done at PNR today (there was though a lot of singing and dancing).

Meanwhile in Bolton…
Protectors gathered too at the gates of AE Yates of Bolton – the contractor helping Cuadrilla construct this monstrosity that threatens us. This solidarity action not only let this company know that they are now part of this unfolding drama… but enhanced the day of those at the roadside of PNR who were eagerly awaiting news. if we can all work together to stop contractors from supplying this industry, we can starve it to its end... long live the 'Pop-up Protest'!!

The frack-free movement may not have an easily definable ‘strategy’ but we share like-minds, same goals and strong determination… this is the start of more to come.

These actions are I think evidence of our ability as a movement to not only overcome the troubles and tackle the challenges we face …but to successfully use our many skills to pull together, regardless of anything else. Protectors sometimes try to walk away when harmed by the intensity of all that this entails… but I have never met any who truly can stop. Once you know the truth of the threat this industry brings, you cannot UN-know it, cannot pretend it away or suddenly start trusting our government or regulators to miraculously care enough or have the skills required to keep our children safe. We’re stuck in this and the most we can do… is hold each other up through the hard bits.

The week ends with stronger hearts, tighter bonds and justifiable optimism. Much love to all… see you Monday?

*Highlight of today's
#PNR playlist: looking down the line of us all as arms stretched out in a dance move to Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' and imagining if this was a movie... it would absolutely be made by the Cohen Brothers & Tarrantino xxx

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Day 12 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 12 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people brought the humanity, kindness, wisdom and joy to PNR along with steely determination and growing rage. Each day still unfolds something new and it’s only really at the end of it, when you stop, rest and look back, that you realise the tension, apprehension and high-alert you have been on. As this consumes much of our time, those at the roadside discussed ways to improve conditions and maintain energy… now our Nana music system is adding a new dimension to proceedings. This along with the continuous honks of support, gifts of food, sweets, masks (such a polluted road), hand-warmers and growing numbers, has brought lashings of positive energy with it

So today was another slow day for Cuadrilla and work is behind schedule… which is nice. They got 8 delayed-trucks in – nothing like the 20-30 they said would be the daily number. An ambulance was again delayed (third one now) due to Cuadrilla; this time with 4 vehicles oncoming in the single-lane that meant it couldn’t proceed till they cleared. Still no action from Inspectors at Lancashire County Council (LCC) and the reports of planning violations are mounting. We had two Councillors visit this week who worked on the rejection of the original planning application – they updated that the reports are being received and they’re pushing for action to be taken against Cuadrilla’s abuses. Video, photographs and testimonies make a clear case… so please, if you can, write or call LCC to register your concerns.

It was a different sort of day for us - our voices were raised in song and the little steps taken to keep us warm, turned to dance moves. Music does indeed calm the savage beast and it was impossible for anyone – even the 'other side' – to avoid the rhythm in the air. Sounds trivial? I beg to differ… PNR is a place where residents become Protectors as we discover what it is going to take to stop this industry – it isn’t pretty and the task ahead is daunting; there has to be something worth clinging to that is beautiful. Music, singing, dancing and sharing the laughter is every bit as important as the actions we will be forced to take to stop this powerful industry.

Admittedly my playlist is a bit odd and not adequate but it sufficed and now Julie has created a dedicated list of fantastic music covering everything from Motown to Grease, Sinatra to Whinehouse and much in-between that will enhance our tomorrows.

Although we prepare for the storm to come… we cling tight to these moments of joy, unity and power. Soon enough the task of stalling this industry will get harder and tactics and responses will change by necessity. For now though, residents are weaving our understanding of what we can each do as the ‘Protector’ in each gets ignited by the threat that literally is… right here, right now, right in front of us. Groups large and small are working with us too and although often unseen, will become more evident as things change. There may be many bumps in the road ahead but the many are working to clear the way. 

See you tomorrow?

*Playlist highlight today – two Protectors using their signs as guitars for Slade’s ‘Goodbye t’Jane’

Will we thrive, die or barely survive?

The photo states a fact... plain, simple, unavoidably true. Sadly we're in a world where it's politics that dictates ...