Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Day 11 in the Cuadrilla House...

 Day 11 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people multiply as lunch hours are sacrificed, school-runs speeded up and leisure/commitments/family put on hold for this emergency. Despite being told by staff this morning to expect 12 trucks and one concrete mixer, only 6 trucks and one concrete mixer made it through in the allotted time – the slow-walks may be short (the space we’re in offers no real distance) but when applied to every truck during the brief delivery window of 9:30am-3pm, they impact not just the time taken but the flow of vehicles and work.

The act of opposing our government and defending ourselves is an exhausting and unpleasant thing to commit to but the creativity, smiles, hugs and warmth of those who do – softens the harsh reality and makes it bearable. This intense period of activity will only be possible because we support each other and also… if we can sustain ourselves by introducing some joy to the ugly task.

Today there was joy; Nanas brought the music system so that rather than slow-walk, there was some dancing and a great deal of singing, motorists passed yummy treats to Protectors at the roadside for sharing, Nana Rhona in Scotland sent delicious home-made fudge for everybody (along with lovely woollen hats to keep Nana heads warm) and the day passed not only without aggression – but with growing unity.

I sometimes think that when we stand with others who we don’t really know too well, yet share a purpose… that there is a kind of choreography that happens. In the frack free movement, we are ALL entirely in-step for the first move – agree that the UK MUST remain frack-free. The next step involves the tricky bit in this dance of strangers …to move together in ways that stop the industry. We are still treading on each other’s toes but at least that’s a consequence of trying – not a deliberate thing.

At sites across the UK where frackers came to poke their drills and test for shale, Protectors have done all possible to stop them; from slow-walks and lock-ons, to blocking gates with wind-turbine arms and much more besides. The term ‘Investor Removal Team’ became used as we noticed that with each action against this industry, the investors grew more nervous. Of course we weren’t able to prevent the sites being built (although a few companies gave up before starting) with these actions alone and even though the stands against drilling at Balcombe and Barton Moss for instance were hugely powerful… the drill still came. This visible public opposition is vital though. The slow-walks don’t stop construction – they delay and deter whilst alerting and making clear there is no social license for this industry.

What WILL stop this industry?

Looking at successful actions that actually halted unconventional energy companies from doing their dirty work… and it tends to be:
-powerful influence (*see New York Medical Profession ban)
 -community legal challenges
-cross-party political co-operation (*see Victoria ban)
- or as with the glorious Bentley Blockade – a whole lot of people refusing to allow drilling.

Up at Preston New Road, we are witnessing and delaying the slip-road building stage but soon, it will be the pad itself being brought in and put together in order to accommodate the wells. We need to do all we can and need all the help we can get to ensure success in one or all of the ways we see that work. Currently:
-ALL Unions (except GMB) are against fracking and have declared support for the frack-free movement; we could do with more visible and audible opposition so if you’re in a Union, please ask what actions they are taking to stop this industry and if they can do more.
-There are two legal challenges pending that are getting vital additional arguments based on the abuses of planning at PNR. Please see Preston New Road Action Group for details.
-Labour & LibDems have caught up with the Greens to call for an end to fracking… we could do with them getting a whole lot more vocal in parliament and visible with their local frack-free groups– so if your MP or Councillor is LibDem or Labour (Greens already on this) it’s worth pushing for them to do their job and stand by their party’s public declarations.
-Residents who oppose this are growing more numerous and a whole lot stronger each day and the support from passing cars is overwhelming and deafening in the best of ways… visitors today came from all over and it was fantastic to see banners of support from Lancaster and Greenpeace. If you can come to PNR and show solidarity – it would be fantastic. We’re there each week-day 9-3 at the roadside and the groups in the area are also putting together events to bring more visitors on Saturdays when more are available….

One day soon, if bankruptcy, court or wisdom don’t get Cuadrilla first, we may need a ‘Bentley-sized’ solution so please prepare and see what you can do to make time in your life to help us stay frack free.

Ending tonight with a few words from a new Protector:

“I went to the Preston New Road Peaceful Protest today for a few hours on a drizzly dark morning. As I arrived at the Frontier of Fracking in Great Britain - The Badlands of Gasland came into sight.
My usual place of work is on the shoreline, desolate, quiet and no human in sight. Only the roar of waves, the wind and seagulls to keep me company; so you can imagine the fright, fear and trepidation I felt as my mind and body told me you ‘have to go and show your support for the Protectors’. You believe so strongly in their cause, there is no other way around this. Wherever this leads to you have to see this through to the end

There must be many people in Lancashire and throughout the UK who feel the same way but perhaps have never been to a protest before. Slightly worried and wonder, oh dear dare I but really want to. I personally feel this is a natural human reaction that many have to move through.

The protectors need your support, they cannot do it all themselves.

The people of Lancashire and the UK said no and your Democratic decisions have been overruled by the powerful ones who are supposed to represent you. Pick yourself up and walk out of your door and just go and support them for an hour or two or three. Talk to them and listen to what they have learned. Do a little research.

I could go on for hours but feel at times perhaps I can put people to sleep with my thoughts. All I am saying is that millions of people said no or are talking amongst themselves at this moment saying: “I hate this Fracking idea but what can I do against the powerful ones?”

You must realise YOU ARE the powerful ones, the sleeping giants, but when woken watch out.

Go down and support the protectors. They will give you a warm welcome.”
See you tomorrow? x