Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day 35 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 35 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people are tired but tragically stuck with a task that cannot be delegated – the protection of air and water. The day though started brilliantly with news of falling share prices, dismay of investors and the withdrawal of services to Cuadrilla by another supplier – thanks to amazing work at this morning’s POP (Pop Up Protest) in Wigan. Some of us brought toys from the children of our community, to recognise what we stand to Protect and we laid these along the entrance at the feet of staff – more on that later. No lock-ons today but lots of activity at the entrance with some preventing the exit of vehicles and only succeeding really in bringing a massive police response and minutes of delay for exiting drivers – arrests too that occurred after I left. The 15-minute slow-walks happened – differently though as there’s no work-lane anymore; the delay happened in the entrance-way to the site. Any delay is a good delay and the opportunity was taken – especially as they can’t ‘stack’ trucks with so little entrance and no work-lane. One Protector at a time crossed over to stand with the truck for the 15 minutes – 4 lots of delay happened whilst I was there. I can’t be certain of the number but think less than 8 trucks got in today. 

So the diversity that we are as people in the role of Protectors, means our approaches vary and sometimes the overlaps are sharp. Today some brought teddy bears and dolls from the children of our community, in order to lay them across the entrance of the Cuadrilla site. Other Protectors also had actions at the entrance (delaying exits) and this brought a huge police presence that impacted the ‘teddy protest’ in the most ridiculous way. We had laid the toys in a line and as the last was peacefully and gently laid in centre – we were surrounded by police and a kettle formed. I got out before it sealed around me. Meanwhile, security guards gathered the toys and said they had done so as thought they might get crushed… which rather missed the point of the action. We placed the toys in the hedge facing the site (where the ribbons are), to remind them what it is that makes us un-stoppable – this is not a choice, it’s an inescapable obligation. Some in the kettle were deeply shaken by the experience – this blend of experienced activist and newly arrived residents… is often like oil and water – although the moments where it’s like milk and honey are reasons to hope. Our actions can complement as well as clash – the PUPs being a brilliant example of one group positively impacting the work of another.

The need to protect so much of our country that is licensed, means there are not enough ‘experienced activists’ to go round and we are going to have to grow within communities if we are to succeed. It is so difficult though for those not used to the chaos, the noise, the anger, aggression and risks of a protest – to find their place in it… yet every day the residents com, give it their best amidst the new of it and ARE becoming ‘experienced activists’. This influx is forcing change as each individual brings their own ways, limitations, expertise and determination; impacting the movement – and each other. It’s often messy, frustrating and infuriating – but it’s NOT FRACKING so it’s not the worst that can happen and we can’t prevent it from happening – without each other. I truly believe – what we learn here, we grow from. I always needed more patience…

Today’s PUP in Wigan took less than two hours and resulted in the supplier ,CHR Plant (WN4 0BW) agreeing to withdraw their machinery from the site at PNR and to no longer provide services to Cuadrilla – they also wished us luck in what we are doing. Wow. Some from Frack Free Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield who were at the PUP and talks with the company, joined us at the roadside for the day and it was great to be able to sincerely thank them and tell them that the result was even more than they knew… as share prices took another hit. I know I’ve said before but it really is ONLY us that is working to stop this industry and so all reactions by them – are caused by our actions. Three supplier pull-outs in a fortnight clearly makes them jump :)

Plans for Saturday’s Don’t Frack Lancs - National Rally are looking impressive and numbers high – seems that parking, stage, PA, refreshments and running orders are sorted along with coaches… and the press is asking for times so we can expect coverage. If you’re coming, it’s asked if you could bring a red rose for Lancashire as part of an action on the day. Meanwhile, back to the ever-changing scene at the roadside in the morning… see you tomorrow? X

*Moment to remember… looking across to see Miranda glaring at the site whilst stroking the white cat toy she’d brought and seeing scenes from Austin Powers in my head.

*Photo thanks to Cheryl Atkinson