Thursday, 12 January 2017

Day 7 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 7 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people keep on keeping on, whatever happens. The gathering began again this morning ready for the placing of the temporary traffic lights. It was clear by the concerned faces that this exhaustive business of trying to protect our communities from this industry, takes its toll. WE though, the people of this country… are all we have that is keeping the UK frack free and for those who do – it is impossible to walk away.

After actions yesterday that closed the road, the Emergency Plan is still in use which means truck movements are able to come from a different direction at times and there is heightened policing. What it doesn’t allow for though is the breaching of the Traffic Management Plan. As we have two outstanding legal challenges, it is useful that Cuadrilla prove our concerns right: twice today the fence had to be moved and ALL traffic from both directions halted, as three trucks could not turn in the limited space and were stuck. This… we knew would happen – it’s part of why our wise Council refused Cuadrilla’s unworkable planning application – their Traffic Management Plan was not made better when the Government overruled our Council and decided to try to frack us anyway.

We checked with the site about when the trucks were due and that we would be given access to the site to slow-walk each of them. All agreed. A brief note about this in light of questions: after the violent and dangerous scenes of Day 4 at the site, the residents who were shoved by fences and nearly mowed down by a reversing truck, insisted on the right to protest and importantly, the right to do it without harm. The police too told Cuadrilla that the situation was dangerous on this major road and they would have to facilitate protest. Cuadrilla had to comply. We are permitted 15 minutes per truck that in reality is half an hour with us getting in and out of the fenced area and position and it puts as in the site, disrupting flow and making them appear as if they don't have full control of their work area. Today we only had three slow-walks as Cuadrilla stopped any other truck movements themselves due to the ones that got stuck and ate up all their work time.

Those Day 4 images are what brought concerned Protectors to us yesterday – showing what happens when any Protectors are attacked. We had warned Security that if they treated us this way, others would come and other tactics would be used. I don’t think they actually believed us… so although yesterday was challenging and full of tense uncertainty – it certainly served to show the truth and reality of the determined, passionate and committed opposition to this industry.

This struggle to keep ourselves frack free means EVERY day is different… just as each protection site has differed too. I actually feel more out of my depth with this particular site than others....even when those others were brutal with heavy-handed police lines protecting this vile industry, it made the method of protest, obvious. This way has always come with a guarantee of trauma, bad press and valuable Protector time wasted in courts and jails … it has also led to the exclusion of some residents who want to object but are scared or less able-bodied.

Here at this site on PNR, the residents have fought hard for years in councils, courts, parliament, streets, MPs offices, public meetings, industry events and everywhere in-between and clearly want to stop the industry. It is also clear though - they want to try it first in a peaceful, safe and yet effective way - how that looks is unclear but unfolding. We are finding our way and it is unfamiliar – but I think that’s good. I know my body will end up somewhere between a drill and earth if it comes to it but will do everything I can to NOT meet that stage. I don’t know any in this movement who will give-up or give-in until we drive the frackers out.

There is every chance too that the industry could screw this up themselves with their usual inept behaviour PLUS there is talk in business/finance press of 'energy bubble' and there is also hope then that if we can just stall it long enough (we've done 6 years so far) then the investors will pull the plug.

I have no idea if what any of us do is the best way or the one that will do the trick, I think actually that it is the diversity of our actions that will be key. Here there is a different way being tried in the hope of having a long-term impact rather than single disruption. This is also about building community resistance techniques. My hope is that each community that is under threat - creates inclusive actions that allow the members of that community to become activists when needed so that industries that bring threats to safety, can be resisted by local people effectively - without the need for experienced activists to have to travel to all the calls for help... with all the licenses, those who came yesterday, will never be able to be everywhere.

The week nears its end after tough days, tough lessons and a heck of a drop in temperature! There is a long road still ahead but a far longer one behind us and we near breaking point with this industry. Tempers have been frayed, friendships stretched to breaking and my hope is …the sore parts where we’ve rubbed each other the wrong way, will us knit closer together in the healing.

Arctic chill on it’s way… but on the bright side, no rain due tomorrow x

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