For the past 7 years, residents of
Lancashire in North West England, supported by allies from across the UK and
Europe, have led a remarkable campaign to protect their communities from
fracking. Local businesses, health groups, trade unions and others have joined
One year after Friends of the Earth
Europe’s AGM visited Preston New Road’s fracking site last May, in solidarity
with local residents on the front line of a #FossilFree Europe, we
take a look at what has happened since.
Cuadrilla have applied for fracking
Fracking involves firing a mix of water,
sand and chemicals down a well to extract gas or oil from under ground. But it
poses risks to local people and the environment, as well as contributing to
Fracking still has not taken place as of
June 2018, resisting 7 years of threats. Protestors have successfully held off
fracking company Cuadrilla from starting its fracking operations at Preston New
Road, Lancashire - which would be the first in the UK.
Protest has been ongoing each day of
operations, and Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland has
continued to attend the site with protesters to make a stand against fracking
But the campaign is now reaching crunch
point. The Westminster government has overturned the local government’s
democratic decision to say ‘no’ to fracking. And now Cuadrilla has applied to
the UK government for final consent to start within weeks - asking for final
Hydraulic Fracturing Consent. Friends of the Earth have a petition to ask the
minister to reject this: https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/put-stop-fracking.
Friends of the Earth’s legal team has
however spotted a big problem with an environmental permit that the
government’s regulator gave to Cuadrilla. So Friends of the Earth are suing the
Environment Agency in the UK High Court - demanding that consent for fracking
cannot be given while this legal challenge is live, which would of course delay
Cuadrilla’s plans at least until a hearing took place.
Government changing planning permission
to help industry
In a very significant move the UK
government have made proposals to change planning laws which would
significantly reduce the ability of communities and local councils to reject
fracking applications. This is a serious threat to the
country and would make it much easier for fracking firms to drill for oil and
Cuadrilla apply for an injunction
Within the same week that the government
proposed disgraceful changes to the planning permission for fracking, and that
Cuadrilla applied for final fracking consent, Cuadrilla also applied for an
injunction to restrict protest at the site. The impacts of this remain to be fully recognized,
but it seeks to prohibit what is described as unlawful “obstruction” of the
site entrance and adjacent road.
Local people are as determined as ever
to stop fracking. They have just taken part in a blockade over the whole
weekend with hundreds of people joining them. The communities of Lancashire are
going to continue to show that they don’t back fracking.
They’ve done an incredible job so far
and shown the government and the fossil fuel industry that no matter what they
do to try and force fracking on the country, they will be met with sustained
opposition. The strength and duration of such resistance has shocked the
industry and will be a huge factor in making sure fracking never has a viable
future in the UK.