Why people in Wales should support a fracking ban

By Dorothy Kelk, Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth

Dorothy has a personal message for the people of Wales: don’t risk being drawn into ‘long running legal battles’ - sign our petition to ensure fracking can never happen in Wales.

 

If you are living in Wales, you may think fracking isn't a problem. If you don't act now to support a ban, you could find yourself standing at the gates of a fracking site.

'A daily vigil'

It is April 2018, and on a roadside near Blackpool in Lancashire, local residents and campaigners maintain a daily vigil at the gates of Cuadrilla’s fracking site. Work began at the Preston New Road site in January 2017, after the Government overturned Lancashire County Council’s refusal of a multiple-well fracking site.

The community-led resistance has been strong. Through sunshine and snow, families, councillors, trade unions, businesses, students and faith groups have all turned up to show solidarity with the local community, and call for action on climate change.

So far it hasn’t been plain sailing for Cuadrilla. Their operations at the site are behind schedule, most likely due to weather, technical issues and peaceful direct action. Whether fracking companies can operate to the planning and permit conditions they have been set, has also been thrown into question. The company is on its eleventh version of the traffic plan, while environmental permits have been changed.

Down the road in the quiet village of Roseacre, residents are preparing for another public inquiry with Cuadrilla this Spring. Rejected by parish, district and county councils, and the planning inspector at the subsequent appeal, the Government have given Cuadrilla yet another opportunity to get approval for fracking.

 

'Local opposition strong as ever'

But despite the UK Government’s enthusiasm, local opposition to fracking is as strong as ever. As Cuadrilla prepared to drill at Preston New Road last year, two thirds of Lancashire residents said they opposed fracking. And as it nears the end of the drilling stage, and towards the planned start of fracking, residents are launching three months of peaceful direct actionAcross England, companies have been held back by community-led campaigns against
fracking.
Third Energy, who were planning on fracking in Ryedale by the start of the year, are now being investigated by the Government for financial resilience.

Meanwhile petrochemicals giant Ineos have been met with a string of planning objections from councils in Yorkshire and the Midlands, and Igas have had plans for shale gas testing in Cheshire rejected .

 

What does all this mean for Wales?

The moratorium protects communities and the environment from fracking for now. But unless a full ban is implemented, as the experience in England shows, Welsh communities could find themselves drawn into long running planning battles and being left with no choice but to take peaceful direct action to stop the industry. Scotland and Ireland have already shown the way with bans on fracking. Will Wales follow suit?

One of the strongest themes to come out of the anti fracking movement in the UK is the sense of solidarity amongst communities opposing this unwanted fossil fuel. Preston New Road has been grateful for the support of frack free groups from Wales.

As the pressure grows on the Welsh Government to ban fracking, Lancashire residents give their solidarity in return. Not here, not anywhere.

 

Sign our petition - support our ban #BanFrackingNow

 

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