Endorsements

"probably the most prolific anti frack website in the UK"
- Ken Wilkinson - prominent pro-fracking activist and industry supporter (Yes we know , he doesn't know what "prolific" means does he)

Private Eye

Defend Localism!

Take the advice of Greg Clark, ex-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government

Greg Clark

"Those who are prepared to organise to be more effective and more efficient should be able to reap substantially the rewards of that boldness ...

Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else"

How many wells?

PNRAG Wells
Click the image from more information on Cuadrilla's plans for PEDL 165

Fracking Employment

From the Financial Times 16 October 2013

AMEC forecast just 15,900 to 24,300 nationwide - direct & indirect

Jobs would typically be short term, at between four and nine years

Only 17% of jobs so far have gone to local people

Rubbish!

Looking for misinformation, scaremongering, lies or stupidity?

It's all on this website (but only on this one post ) featuring the Reverend Mike Roberts.

(Oops - there's more! )

Here though is our favourite Reverend Roberts quote of all time - published in the Lancashire Evening Post on 5th August 2015

"If you dare oppose fracking you will get nastiness and harassment whether on social media, or face-to-face"

Yes you!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." - Dr Seuss

We are not for sale!

England is not for sale!

Wrongmove

Join the ever growing number of households who have signed up to the Wrongmove campaign!

Tell Cuadrilla and the Government that your house is "Not for Shale"

Wrongmove

Be a flea

"Many fleas make big dog move"
Japanese Proverb quoted by Jessica Ernst

No to Fracking

Love Lytham Say No to Fracking

Make sense?

The Precautionary Principle

When an activity or occurrence raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

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Statement from Frack Free Lancashire

The following statement was put out by Frack Free Lancashire this morning.

Frack Free Lancashire

Frack Free Lancashire

It has come to our attention that certain individuals are using social media to try and undermine the efforts of Frack Free Lancashire, Friends of the Earth, and some of our most well respected anti fracking campaigners for their own purpose/agenda. Until now we have maintained a dignified silence but this has now become a serious matter and we are concerned that others, who do not know the background, will take these allegations at face value.

We do not understand why anyone within the anti fracking community would want to try and undermine the efforts of people fighting this industry. Not only is it divisive and dangerous but it plays into the hands of the industry who must remain the full focus of our attention if we are to stop fracking.

In particular there has been a serious allegation regarding the whereabouts of donations made to Frack Free Lancashire.

This is an extremely serious accusation. Frack Free Lancashire has always made it absolutely clear that all donations collected were to go into the Legal Fund and that is where every penny has gone. FFL wishes to assure everyone who has donated to the Frack Free Lancashire Legal Fund that they can be certain that their donations have ONLY been used and will continue to ONLY be used to directly support the legal challenges of members and their groups. We would like to thank all those people who have so kindly and generously donated to make the legal challenges possible.

We hope that this accusation and other allegations against individuals stop immediately. Online defamation is a serious offence and if it continues we will take legal advice/action.

Frack Free Lancashire is an umbrella for many anti fracking groups and individuals who are all working extremely hard to stop fracking in the UK. The FFL name is known and respected not only in the UK but worldwide. There is no hierarchy. Whilst we may not always agree, we all work together and try to reach a consensus. There is no-one trying to control. There is no impropriety or substance to these allegations. It is by working together we remain strong. To try and destroy this is not only divisive but dangerous and damaging.

Rest assured we will carry on the fight. We believe in unity and will work to unite as many local groups as possible. We have strength in numbers. This is what the industry fears most. We will continue to help those groups who need it most such as the Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) and Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) who are both under immediate threat and have fully embraced the ideology of a united Frack Free Lancashire.

Issued on behalf of Frack Free Lancashire

Commitment failure

Oh what a brave new dawn it was! Cuadrilla decided that even though legal challenges were still outstanding they would fire the starting pistol on the Shale Gas Revolution and start developing their pad at Preston New Road.

Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive” as Wordsworth wrote, and in that optimistic mood Cuadrilla made a very public promise. They would “put Lancashire first in terms of creating jobs, investment, new skills and community initiatives as a result of shale gas exploration and, if exploration is successful, shale gas production in Lancashire.”

In order to demonstrate this they promised to publish a tracker quarterly in 2017 which would show how they were holding to their promise.

To be honest as soon as it became apparent that their major contract for site construction had gone to a company based in Greater Manchester (and not Lancashire as promised) this whole idea looked a bit risible, but we thought that they would at least try to get a version of the tracker released in the first quarter of the year.

But no – as at April 11th (Well into Quarter 2 of the year) their web site is still serving up a tracker which they refer to above as “the 2016 tracker”. No tracker was published in Q1 of 2017. Imagine our surprise!

So yet another PR fail at the first hurdle from Cuadrilla – they really don’t seem to care much what locals think of them after all, but we thought we’d give them a hand by publishing our own version here.

 

LCC – Kowtowing to Cuadrilla?

There has been much contention over the last 5 days about the way in which Cuadrilla have appropriated a patch of land over which, according to the police, the public have a right of way.

On Friday the Heras fencing at the site, which had been along the hedge line was moved forward without explanation until it met the edge of the cycle path.

It would surely be cynical to suggest that Cuadrilla’s motivation for this was to deny the area to activists who had caused them problems during the week by “locking-on”. Wouldn’t it?

It took a while to establish who gave them permission. The police didn’t know and it was only by the concerted application of pressure that a PLO finally confirmed on Monday evening that a certain Paul Smith of Lancashire County Council had emailed permission to Cuadrilla on the previous Friday.

We have now had sight of the demand made by Cuadrilla and the rubber stamp given to it by Mr Smith


Nobody we have asked (protestors, police or security staff) claims to have seen Cuadrilla make any effort to do any work which would require this fencing to be in place since they were granted permission 5 days ago.

We do not believe that the granting of this permission, without any qualification or detailed consideration, demonstrates an adequate duty of care for the interests of all of the stakeholders so we have, today had this exchange of emails with Mr Smith. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions about whether his response is satisfactory.

From me to Paul Smith – 14 March 09:40

Dear Mr Smith

I am writing to express my serious concern about the permission which you have apparently granted to Cuadrilla to move their Heras fencing out over the public footway at the side of Preston New Road to the edge of the cycle lane.

I understand that this permission was granted to them by email from yourself, ostensibly to allow them to carry out some work on utilities and sight lines, last Friday (10th March).

This raises the following questions:

1. Is the footway a right of way? If so were the procedures laid down here adhered to and where was the closure advertised?

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/public-rights-of-way/request-a-temporary-closure.aspx

2. Is there a time limit on the permission. If so what is it? If not, why not? You will of course be aware that although the fences were moved 5 days ago there has been no sign of any work whatsoever on sight lines or utilities in the vicinity of the fence.

3. Why was permission granted to block the footway in its entirety? This is totally unnecessary as any work on sight lines could be done with fencing at either end, not spanning the entire ~20 metres of the footway. Presumably the same is true of work on utilities.

4. Why was a condition not imposed that the Heras fencing should only be moved out while work was in progress and moved back when work was not being done. According to staff on site it would only take 5 minutes to move the fencing in and out, so allowing the footway to be blocked continually is clearly disproportionate.

Pending your response to the above I would be grateful if you would provide a copy of the permission email so that we can validate what is being done against what had been permitted.

As one police officer commented to me yesterday, “You know why Cuadrilla have done this, we know why Cuadrilla have done this, it is just LCC who don’t”.

As long as Cuadrilla are facilitated in blocking legitimate protest by flaunting the permission they have got from you and closing off an area where protest has taken place, then evidence suggests that that protest will simply move as you saw yesterday. The result yesterday was that a highway for which you are responsible got blocked by protest on a lorry.

If I might proffer a suggestion, you would satisfy any of Cuadrilla’s genuine requirements and make the police’s job much easier if you rescinded the permission that you have apparently granted Cuadrilla and reissued a more qualified permission which takes in to account the reality of the situation, and not what is convenient to  Cuadrilla.

Kind regards

John

From Paul Smith to me – 14 March 10:10

Mr Hobson

Further to your email below I have the following responses:

1. the area of highway fenced off is not a footway but is a grass verge

2. there is no particular time limit as the placing of the fencing at the approved location does not have any impact on the general travelling public

3. as previously stated, it is not a footway but is in fact a grass verge

4. as the location of the fencing does not affect the general travelling public I am happy for the fencing to remain in position until all the remedial works have been carried out.

Please find attached a copy of my email granting permission for the positioning of the fence.

[No sign off or signature – emails between Paul Smith and Nick Mace shown above attached]

From me to Paul Smith – 14 March 10:47

Mr Smith

1. The police in attendance at PNR (both PLOs and TAU) have made it very clear that they regard the grass verge and the tarmaced space in between the hedges, as an area to which the public has a right of access. They routinely describe is as a “footway”. Would you please clarify the legal basis on which you appear to be claiming that it is not.

2. Whilst the general travelling public may not be directly impacted by the fencing, you clearly have a duty to ensure that the rights of pedestrians are taken into account. You appear not to have considered the position of pedestrians as stakeholders in this decision that you have taken. Would you please clarify the basis on which you have discounted the rights of the many people who have continually used the area under discussion over the last 2 months

3. Regardless of whether you call it a footway or a verge, you have given indefinite permission for Cuadrilla to block off an area to which the police have confirmed on multiple occasions people have a legitimate right of access. From the email trail below you seem to have rubber stamped a demand from Cuadrilla (it is not phrased as a request is it?) without question, and without imposing any conditions or limitations, or considering any ways in which the impact could have been mitigated by limiting the scope of the permission. In acting in this way you have failed to take into account the needs and rights of all of the stakeholders concerned. Again I think it fair to ask you to explain why.

4. Again you seem to ignore the needs and rights of the many people who have used this area over the last two months. You appear to have been given no indication of the likely duration of whatever works may be envisaged, nor do you appear to have asked for such information. If you did perhaps you would be kind enough to provide some documentary evidence of that.

Having been made aware of the issues involved and the inflammatory potential of your decision, I am genuinely surprised and disappointed that you should adopt such a dismissive attitude towards the issues raised.

I would request that you pay this matter more attention and then respond more positively to me as one of Lancashire’s council tax payers. If you prefer not to then I will escalate this within the council, with my own representative and with the police.

Regards

John Hobson

Mr Smith has now replied as follows

Mr Hobson

1.       If the Police routinely describe this area as footway, unfortunately they are incorrect.  The area in question is a grass verge with the footway being on the south side of Preston New Road.
2.       The rights of pedestrians are taken into account by the availability of the footway on the southern side of Preston New Road.  This is no different to any site of a similar nature
3.       Permission has been granted for the duration of the remedial works.  As you will see from the email from Cuadrilla, I will be informed when the works have been completed.  As previously stated, as there is no effect on the general travelling public I have no particular concerns regarding the timescale of the remedials subject to them being carried out in a timely manner
4.       The area of adopted highway that is now fenced off for the remedial works to be carried out is far less than the area cordoned off whilst the access was being constructed.  This is a vast improvement for the general travelling public.
5.       I have not taken a “dismissive attitude to the issues raised” but have answered the queries raised.

Regards

Paul Smith

To which I have responded at 1pm

Mr Smith

Thank you for your reply which I will discuss with police officers on site before reverting to you or escalating this further.

I note the expansion of the email recipients to include Sgt Hill and your other colleagues.

kind regards

John Hobson

Having discussed with local PLOs and the Chief Constable of Lancashire who was visiting the site today, I decided to check what the status of the land now was, given the open ended permission given by Mr Smith to Cuadrilla, so I emailed the Head of Planning ad 16:45 this evening

Dear Mr Mullaney

With relation to the email trail below, can I please ask you to confirm whether the permission to move the fence, granted to Cuadrilla by your colleague Mr Smith, means that the extra land now within the barrier is officially part of the works area of the development site, and therefore subject to the same planning regulations, development control and other planning department protocols?

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards

John Hobson

Thou shalt not bear false witness

The ninth commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” forbids speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour.

It would be tiresome to apply that to, and comment on, the serial failures to observe it over on the Backing Fracking Facebook page, but yesterday we were stopped in our tracks by an exchange we read. Here it is in full.

For those of you who do not know Michael Roberts, as well as being one of the admins on the farcical Backing Fracking Facebook page, is also a semi-retired Church of England vicar. Yet here he is not only denying having made a statement which is on record, and claiming to be misrepresented,  but accusing the other person of lying about him having made it! That seems like odd behaviour for a man of the cloth.

There can be no doubt that he made the statement “Not next to me, I think it would need to be several hundred yards away from the nearest house. Exactly how far I don’t know” . He can be heard making it in a recorded Radio Lancashire interview here, about 2 minutes and 40 seconds in:

The Reverend Roberts has just been appointed HfD (House for Duty) Priest in Charge at St Anne’s church in Woodplumpton

We wonder what the local parishioners will make of the man who will be now be delivering their Sunday sermons?

Of course it is entirely possible that Michael did not intentionally set out to mislead and that the inconsistency between observable facts and his claims is due to something else.

In that case his new flock may be grateful for the final provision of clause 3.5 of the Church of England’s House For Duty Guidance

An invitation to Francis Egan of Cuadrilla

The following invitation was extended to Mr Egan in a letter in the Blackpool Gazette and the Lancashire Evening Post by local  geologist Trina Froud.

Dear Sir,

We have recently had the opportunity to question the regulators, and this week brings the British Geological Survey, who are carrying out some environmental monitoring in Lancashire and Yorkshire. But what is missing, and has been for a long time, is the opportunity to talk to Cuadrilla.

And we residents have lots of questions :

  • Why is the pad at PNR so very much larger than you said ?
  • Do you now intend to drill two laterals from a single vertical well as implied in The Guardian?
  • What environmental monitoring do you intend to do at PNR, how long for and will the results be public?
  • Did the lack of flowback at stage 1 at Preese Hall, contribute to the 2.3 tremor in the frack stage immediately following?

And that’s just for starters !

Mark Miller, the previous CEO of Cuadrilla, was prepared to meet the public, he held roadshows, invited people to the rigs and in 2012, he appeared on a Question Time panel in St Annes chaired by our MP – the hall was packed.  Mike Hill CEng MIET, is a resident of St Annes with more than 20 years experience of the oil and gas industry, Mr Miller welcomed him to the rigs at Preese Hall and Singleton, and Mike was on that QT panel too.

Mr Egan knows what he plans for the Fylde, and Mike Hill has a good idea of what has happened. I read in your paper last week a letter explaining that Mr Hill has been completely exonerated by his professional body, of various accusations made against him.  In other words he can be trusted to give an independent professional viewpoint.

So, this is a public invitation to Mr Egan, to appear with Mr Hill, engineers both of you, to answer our questions.

I can guarantee that the hall will be packed – Mr Egan, will you debate the issues with Mr Hill ?  For what possible genuine reason would you refuse?” I do not think there is one. The public deserve this debate. Are you game ?

Yours,

T Froud

Lytham

We look forward to learning how confident Mr Egan is in his ability to make a case for his operations here in the Fylde. Over to you Francis!

The rise and fall of the “Frackmaster”

Chris Faulkner AKA The Frackmaster

An object lesson in how the Oil and Gas industry and its acolytes seem as ready to be taken in by the Emperor’s new clothes as any other bunch of naive and needy people.

It only seem like yesterday that the UK fracking industry and it’s compliant friends in the media were falling over themselves to fawn over the CEO of Breitling Energy, who had contrived to get himself known by the label “The Frackmaster”, and had thus acquired guru like status amongst the unquestioning and the easily impressed.

Here is how he is described on his own company website

Impressive isn’t it?

He was interviewed by the BBC

He was interviewed by the Guardian

He attended and addressed the Shale Gas Conferences in the UK and throughout Europe

He was welcomed by the parafrackers as God’s gift to Yorkshire (How must Lorraine Allanson regret that endorsement now)

He took out an advert in The Daily Telegraph in 2014 which started “Dear Citizens of the United Kingdom, Do you know that your country is blessed with an incredible gift? It’s shale gas – natural gas trapped in layers of shale rock deep below the surface of the earth.

I could go on but here is Ruth Hayhurst’s summary from Drill or Drop for just one year – 2014

He was the MAN!

But then the gilt began to peel off. His advert in the Telegraph was censured by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2014 who ruled that six claims were misleading, exaggerated and unsubstantiated and should not be repeated.

Questions had been asked as to how this former sex toy web site entrepreneur had become one of the world’s leading authorities on hydraulic fracturing, and in 2016 we learned that the US SEC was suing Mr Faulkner for fraud involving an alleged sum of $80 million on investors’ money through the sale of Oil and Gas working interest investments.

Finally in February 2017 we read on Texas Sharon’s website  that Mr Faulkner had been arrested at Los Angeles airport and is being held in jail in Los Angeles without bail on charges of felony.


As Mr Faulkner is notoriously litigious we’ll leave you to Google “Chris Faulkner Frackmaster” for yourselves so you can draw your own further conclusions as to how this man became the guru of the UK fracking scene and what that says about the industry and its supporters.

Enjoy.

P.S. If anybody is interested there is a great domain name for sale!

Arrested Development

On 18th February 2017 the Daily Telegraph published an article with the title “Cuadrilla takes shale activist row to Government as local firms lose out“.

In the article the reporter, Jillian Ambrose, states that

“Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan has raised concerns with officials in the Home Office, asking that police are given greater clarity on the laws surrounding protest action so that police are able to protect local businesses.”

However, she then went on to state that “There have been a dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month” and quoted Chamber of Commerce leader Babs Williams (sic) as describing the “appalling and intimidatory tactics” used by anti-fracking activists.

Anyone reading the article without better information might be excused for believing that anti-fracking protectors have been regularly arrested for totally unacceptable behaviour.

So how much truth is there in this article? It is not clear whose ear Mr Egan may or may not have been bending with his presumptuous suggestion that Police don’t know what they are doing and the implication that they should be doing much more for him – we are not told and the suggestion is very generic. I’d ask but as we know Cuadrilla refuse to engage with any questions I ask them. However, what is clear is that Lancashire Police have categorically and unequivocally denied that up to the date of publication of the article a single individual had been arrested for anything resembling the reasons given by Ms Ambrose in her article.

Independent journalist Ruth Hayhurst reported on her website this morning that “A spokesperson for Lancashire Police confirmed at 11.45am on 20 February 2017 that there had been no arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at the Preston New Road site.

She also provided further background on her headlines page where she stated:

Arrests at Preston New Road: The Telegraph article referred to a “dozen arrests related to verbal abuse and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month”. The Telegraph told DrillOrDrop the source of this statement was Cuadrilla. The company made a statement on 20/2/2017, saying the reference was to the dozen arrests made in connection with protests at or near the Preston New Road site. Separately, a company spokesperson said that threats of verbal abuse and physical violence are “all taken seriously and have been passed to the Police to investigate and take statements”.

[For clarity we should point out here that as far as we know there have so far been 10 arrests made under Section 14 of the Public Order Act and one under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act. It is clear from Lancashire Polices response that not a single one of these involved death threats or assault. ]

So we have something of a gap here – The Telegraph appear to be suggesting that the claim about the “dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault” came from Cuadrilla but Cuadrilla are claiming that they only referred generically to some arrests and didn’t specify what they were for. Equally Cuadrilla would appear to be claiming not to have mentioned “death threats” at all.

So what can we make of this?

If this were some down at heel local rag we might charitably assume that a naive reporter got overawed by being offered an interview with Cuadrilla’s CEO late on a Friday, got what she thought was  a juicy quote and either misunderstood it or was was unable to validate it during the weekend but published anyway. However, it isn’t the local rag – this is the Daily Telegraph and the reporter concerned is “a Business Reporter covering oil, gas and utilities for The Telegraph business desk“. Somebody who presumably brings the ethics and experience of a professional journalist to bear. She is after all quite caustic about the professional abilities of others.

So maybe this experienced reporter on a quality national newspaper took two unrelated statements (that arrests were made and Cuadrilla’s claims that threats had been made) and conflated them into something more interesting than either statement was in isolation – but that seems unlikely and wouldn’t explain the very specific statement about “verbal death threats and physical assault“. After all there is a considerable difference between verbal “abuse” and a verbal “death threat“. That would be quite an embellishment wouldn’t it?

Could it be then that Ms Ambrose was actually reporting what she was told by Cuadrilla, and that she made a mistake in not confirming the facts with Lancashire Police before repeating the allegation in her article? It seems unlikely that a staff journalist on a national broadsheet would not be careful enough to cover themselves by checking the reliability of a claim that could be so incendiary before repeating it. But then when challenged, she did claim on Twitter (see below) that her statement was backed up by evidence on the Lancashire Police Facebook page. (It wasn’t)

If that’s not it then we have to ask whether a professional and experienced journalist would , intentionally or otherwise,  misquote the CEO of a company she was interviewing. That would be an unlikely things for a journalist on a national title to do, and did she not, like every other journalist I have encountered keep her own shorthand notes of the conversation? Again, it seems unlikely that Ms Ambrose does not have a recording or written record of the interview to fall back on to defend her and the Telegraph’s position regarding any statements made by her interviewee, Mr Egan.

I’m running out of hypotheses now but it seems that the gap between the statements made by both parties by way of explanation as to the origin of the defamation still remains to be filled, as the given explanations simply can’t be made to fit together in any coherent way.  Maybe an investigative journalist could ask some pointed questions to get to the bottom of this?

Today the Telegraph reporter was made aware of both her mistake with Babs Murphy’s name and the fact that the statement regarding “verbal death threats and physical assault” had been denied by the Police. The article has now been corrected as regards Ms Murphy’s name but the calumny about the “death threats” and “physical assaults” still remains. Indeed Ms Ambrose tweeted rather combatively:

This suggests that she didn’t perhaps realise the gravity of the claim she had made regarding the “verbal death threats and physical assault”.

In any event it seems that the Telegraph are currently standing by their version of events, which is somewhat surprising and disappointing in the face of Lancashire Police’s statement which flatly contradicts it and Cuadrilla’s apparent denial of being the source of the specific information regarding “verbal death threats and physical assault” .

We are aware from some (very justifiably) angry responses on social media that several complaints have now been made to the newspaper regulator IPSO, so we hope that they will be able to shine a light on what really lies behind a very unsavoury defamation of those opposed to fracking.

We honestly don’t know who is to blame, but we do know that there isn’t a jot of truth in the allegation that “There have been a dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month“.

Watch this space to see how this plays out.

(Before you came) You will not take our flowers

Protest comes in many forms but few a beautiful as this heartfelt song from Andy Severyn, inspired by the trashing of the Valentine’s Day flowers tied to the fencing at Preston New Road.

If you have a couple of minutes give it a listen please

How big is this pad going to get?

Francis Egan has been very keen on playing down the size of his erection, but as everybody driving past the site at Preston New Road can now see, the site is growing bigger every day. It is in fact very helpful that their first development site is being built somewhere where its impact is so visible to passing residents.

The claim that the site will only take as much land as a rugby pitch (~1 hectare) is being show up for the lie it is with every new load of aggregate and every new portakabin that gets delivered.

The plan submitted to Lancashire County Council shows that the net total land covered by surface works at the development is about 7 hectares (this the area bordered in red on the plan below)

 

In addition the area shaded yellow (approximate) is being used for the siting of office portakabins etc – in fact if you look you can see what looks like a new small village being sited! We asked both a Cuadrilla employee and an AE Yates employee at the site whether the area shown yellow would be temporary or permanent (for the period of development). The Cuadrilla employee suggested I contact the Community Information line who refuse to communicate with me) and would not /could not tell me more. The AE Yates employee wouldn’t confirm either way but asked me why I thought they would have moved the cabins from their original position (in the pink shaded area on the plan above) to where they are now if they then intended to move them again.


This adds perhaps about another hectare to the developed site meaning that our estimate is that the developed area will be about 8 hectares compared to Mr Egan’s repeated claim to the media that it will only cover the size of a rugby pitch (1 hectare). And remember this is the net usage – if the entire fields in which these developments are occurring were removed from agricultural use then the area concerned  would be much greater

Add to this the 90 associated monitoring array points each taking up a space of 20 x 20 and you have a further 3.6 hectares taken out of use. So we are now between 11 and 12 hectares of prime agricultural and being removed from productive use to allow this development to take place.

Remember – this is just one pad of 4 wells. Mr Egan has plans for over 100 pads of 40 wells each!

So what is a “professional protester”?

A guest post by local businesswoman, Kate Styles, reproduced from her blog with her kind permission

So what is  a “professional protester”?

I see this term a lot, especially in the letters pages when the publication has covered an anti fracking demonstration. Very regularly, we see phrases such as “professional protesters bussed in”, or “protesters from outside the area”, or just ” professional protester”  It is used by people who write in support of shale gas,in a sneering , jeering, dismissive way…. These same individuals who also fail to see that their inclusion in the supply chain and seeking to profit from shale actually means that they could be considered to be professional proponents of fracking…..

There are many  implications inherent in this phrase. Firstly, that there is no “local” support, and that people have to be brought into the area. Secondly, that if you don’t live locally you have no right to have a voice ( this one makes me smile, as one of the correspondents who likes to use this term when backing fracking in Lancashire and Yorkshire is from Somerset). Thirdly, that protesters are either supported by the state or are paid for attendance.  And, finally it raises the question of what exactly is a professional protester?

What qualifies anyone to be a professional? There are no degrees in protesting; there is no Union, no association or membership body, no accredited courses, no vocational qualifications. Do you get to be a professional due to the number of protests you attend, the number of causes you support or is it the duration of the action, or the length of time you have been an activist?

So, I looked at some of the passionate and committed anti fracking protesters it has been my pleasure to meet and thought I would try to answer the question.

One of the ladies who has been a supporter for very many years suffers from chronic pain and a multitude of medical conditions. She does not drive and is on a fixed income. She attends the vast majority of protests ( when transport is available and funds allow), and yet I know that in order to do this, she will often spend the next few days in bed and quite ill as a consequence of having made the effort to protest as a means of informing others about the dangers of fracking.

What about the single mother who works part time and has school age children and needs to make elaborate child-minding plans if she wishes to protest? She enlists help to get her kiddies off to school in the morning and collected and fed after school. After a day at work and usual homework, teatime, bedtime routine, the night before an event sees her making packed lunches for everyone, laying out uniform and whatever she will require before an early night for an early start to a protest miles from home because she cares about the future of her children and what fracking will mean to their health.

And then there is the man who books a precious day from his holiday entitlement because he sees fracking as an enormous risk to our environment. He fills his car with petrol on the way home from work ready for his long journey the next day. Up bright and early he and his wife take the scenic route, stopping for a coffee on the way . They spend the day standing in the rain in support of a community threatened by fracking because they know that solidarity is important in getting the message across. After a long drive home, it is off to bed to be ready for work in the morning.

The protectors who set up camps in fields in order to be close to proposed fracking sites. Living in tents and temporary structures in the freezing cold of a British winter, without the comforts of home we take for granted. Creating a hub for other activists and visitors and being prepared to participate in non violent direct action on a daily basis after which they don’t have the luxury of a long hot soak, or a home cooked meal, or a night spent in front of the fire in a cosy armchair.

Are these people “professional protesters”?

Each and every one of the protesters I know makes sacrifices to join protest. It may be time, or money, or both. It may be missing the kids bedtime, it may be spending time recuperating, it may be borrowing the money for a bus fare. It may be lugging equipment for a tea tent, it may be baking and buying provisions. It may be early starts and long journeys, it may be living without basic comforts.

The next time you hear people talking of “professional protesters”, maybe think about these simple facts. Protest is the voice of the disenfranchised. Protest is not a path lightly trodden. Protest is unpaid and uncompromising in the demands it makes of individuals. Protest happens when all other avenues have been explored and exhausted.

People protest because they care – they care about family and community and our environment and the consequences fracking has to cause harm to all of these. They protest because Climate Change is real and fracking has no place in our required transition to alternative renewable fuel sources. They protest because they have researched and read and understand the issues around fracking. They protest because it raises public awareness and draws media attention and because protest can influence change.

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