Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Day 5 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 5 in the Cuadrilla House…
and the good people tried to find the methods and define purpose that would fit and work in this ever-changing situation. A movement as diverse as ours though will always present some problems of approach. In the end though, very little work on the site was completed and only 4 of the trucks made it – others were cancelled due to delays – as happened yesterday.

So today was difficult in parts for different reasons than yesterday. One effective tactic we’ve discovered over the years is ‘Investor Removal’ and that is the purpose of our action in delaying works vehicles – it’s NOT about a day’s delay here and there, it’s about so much more. The shale gas industry and Cuadrilla in particular are suffering huge cash problems and investors are not confident. This article from October shows how close to bankruptcy Cuadrilla is getting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/losses-mount-at-cuadrilla-as-…/
If you think for a moment that you are considering investing in fracking the UK – you discover that delays are happening at every site that gets started – as a result of slow-walking vehicles as well as other Protector activity. Take our case here on Preston New Road – it’s a super-short area but even with 15-minute slow-walks per truck (actually works out to 30-minutes due to leaving and repositioning for next)… a potential investor will take look at this figure – times it by number of trucks over the lifecycle of the frack site – multiply by the number of frack sites proposed and realise that with over 500 vehicle movement per frack, thousands of wells to be fracked multiple times as well as hundreds more for site builds… we’re talking cumulative totals of YEARS OF DELAY at huge cost. As an investment opportunity with no guarantee of even getting at the gas… it sucks.

Protectors at camps across the country (and the world) have not only projected the lack of social license but caused headlines in business news like:

“UK Public Shale Gas Opposition Deters Investors”
At Barton Moss, Balcombe and other sites – we were ‘the activists’ and were treated as ‘the bad guys’. Media made what we do look ugly - although we're doing the noblest most honourable thing of protecting our young! Police brutality in those places was appalling and the demands on Protectors exhausting, painful and damaging. We had a glimpse of that ugly brutality and confrontation yesterday.

Overnight as a result of complaints as well as video and police evidence – there were long, late negotiations between Lancashire Police and Cuadrilla. It was made clear that as yesterday saw countless dangerous situations and everyone on site was at risk, things would have to change.

Cuadrilla was MADE to AGREE that no truck will deliver its load without a safe slow-walk first

So let’s be clear what that means; we are having our slow-walks FACILITATED, no-one will man-handle us during the slow walks and our timings may not be violated. As none of us ever want to witness the brutality of the Moss if we can avoid it - with Vanda having her faced pushed into gravel, a gentleman with a cane thrown down the embankment, a pregnant woman shoved and countless other incidents of daily violence – then just because the scene at Preston New Road doesn’t look like that – is surely better and no less effective? Also worth noting that we got what at this time we demanded. We are in a better position and can adapt to site changes from it.

Others do not agree or do not perhaps consider the ‘Investor Removal’ tactic as important as others. For those who believe this has to be tackled in other ways – I don’t disagree – I just think that those other ways can be AS WELL and would be more effective on specific targets like the suppliers and the drilling companies themselves – usually located on easily accessible industrial estates. Preston New Road is a deadly road – not like other sites where it can be closed completely during deliveries – it is the main link between our two major hospitals and a ‘red route’ for their ambulances… incidents here could quite literally lead to deaths.

There are around 40 small groups in Lancashire that comprise Frack Free Lancashire and we are likely going to have 30-60 people each day able to be on site doing this job… IF it doesn’t look like a war zone. Freeing up others to do what they choose, to impact the progress of this industry in other ways, on more targets.
Time is still on our side as Cuadrilla struggles to get investors to take them seriously - and this is just the road building stage – no drilling for at least three months. IF Protectors can’t delay progress suitably then our tactics will change long before drilling I’m sure.

I know I can appear bossy and I’m sorry – it is not my place or any other Protector’s to tell another that their activism is ‘not good enough’ or even ‘too much’. What anyone as a voluntary, autonomous activist chooses to do – is their choice… but sharing local knowledge, explaining WHY we are doing certain things and what we think we are achieving by them, is surely going to help.

A rough ride for the wrong reasons today – the target always is this industry and our government that promotes and facilitates it. As an autonomous, voluntary activist myself – I will continue to do what I do and respect those who seek the same goals in whatever way they do this. I end the day sad though as a result of some of my encounters today with people I genuinely respect and admire… we are all unique and have our ways, at some point we will find the bits where we clash.

Tomorrow will be what it will be… x

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