Community Activists Network
The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, is the head of the UK Department for Communities and Local Government. His department’s remit includes decentralisation (of power) and community cohesion amongst other things. So it is decidely ironic that today he has overruled Lancashire’s Local Council decision to reject fracking in Lancashire, effectively ignoring what the community of Lancashire has bonded over and against. Furthermore the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove resolutely undermined the authority and hard work that the local Lancashire council did (and the tax payers paid for). Energy giant Cuadrilla now has a green light to frack at Preston New Road in the village of Little Plumpton thanks to MP Sajid Javid.
The journey to the end of the line is long. The video below is from 2014 when the fight against fracking in the UK was already about three years old. In Nov 2, 2011, Cuadrilla released a report admitting that the two minor earthquakes in Lancashire in April and May of that year were caused by their activities. The locals had a rude awakening to the issue and have not slept since.
So lets look at our democracy at work. The ‘inside track’ of the anti-fracking movement, meaning the element of the movement that directly focussed on decison makers (people in power), have lobbied government, submitted large petitions, delivered reports and opposed the fracking license within the democratic process. Their sustained campaign over a period of 4 years won a democratic victory when the local council rejected the application to frack in June 2015.
The public mobilisation element of this campaign, otherwise known as the ‘outside track’ involved numerous and varied civil society led organisations who creatively and collectively employed pretty much every non violent activist technique one can think of, to highlight the dangers of fracking, garner legitamacy and publically mobilise against fracking in the whole of the UK. These included:
Time-limited occupations, Sit ins, lock ons, blockades and various ‘media-stunts’ and events for the press and the wider public. Petition and logo designing and distribution, Celebrity endorsement, Funding, Bombarding Twitter, Facebook and You Tube with infographics, videos, reports, numerous memes, blogs and articles.
Despite all their efforts to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the community was against fracking, one man, far removed from Lancashire got to decide what is right for Lancashire. Or one could say that Sajid Javid dismissed his duty as a parliamentarian to represent what the people want, and chose, instead, to effectively advocate for the energy giant Cuadrilla. This is the UK democracy in action.
Interview with Tina Rothery, founder of civil society led group Anti-Fracking Nanna’s in 2014.
Location: Time limited occupation of field near drilling site in Lancashire in 2014.
Don’t just take my word for it though.
Read the reports, watch the documentary and read the anti-fracking information that is out there, mostly written by unpaid activists, volunteers, not for profiteers, scientists, engineers and academics. Or else you can of course read what Cuadrilla’s advertising campaign say about ‘natural gas’ . All advertising campaigns for natural gas are perfect examples of corporate ‘cross-dressing’ (Hilder 2007) where the successes of social campaigning (the public knowledge of climate change and pollutants) are co-opted to unreservedly deceive a trusting public.
When billions of pounds of profit are likely to be made it is not terribly difficult to accept that Cuadrilla is likely to say a few ‘white’ lies to get their way. Who needs clean water and clean air reeeealllly!
Understanding the motivation of decision makers like Sajid Javid is decidedly more challenging. If Sajid Javid believes that fracking is needed for ‘energy security’ then he should respect that the people of Lancashire have weighed up the pros and cons and are prepared to live with the consequences. I know that I am prepared to live with less energy rather than play a passive role in the potential poisoning of the UK water basins for all future generations.
I long for a process where politicians like Sajid Javid, who go against what the majority of the public intelligently and responsibly choose, can be recalled for not fulfilling their social contract as elected representatives. Their arrogant disregard for what the majority of people choose is corrosive on our democracy which in and of itself needs to be protected. After all only 24.4% of the population voted for David Cameron and no one voted for Theresa May who is currently machine gunning down the Human Rights Act, the only legislation that civil society can use to protect free speech in the UK.
Gasland (2009) set in Pennsylvania USA kick-started the anti-fracking movement by exposing the gas contamination of the water supply of the land owners who had allowed fracking on their land. It also exposed the consequential disease burden. It is an Academy Award Nominee and is a must see to understand the danger that the UK is now facing.
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