We're not giving up on fighting fracking

Helen Rimmer

22 July 2013

As the country basked in sunshine last weekend, I was picnicking at Lytham’s iconic 19th century windmill. But it wasn't just about relaxing in the glorious weather. This was a community conversation about the big energy issue of the day – fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short, is a process of releasing oil or gas from shale rock deep under the ground. It’s being billed by our Government as the solution to all our energy needs, despite evidence that it’s bad for both people and the environment.

And for people like me in Lancashire, it’s definitely a hot topic. I was joined by more than 200 others – local families, trade unions and green groups, all out in force to show a united front at the second Gathering on the Green.

I was inspired by hearing everyone’s thoughts. Everyone was on the same page when it came to the side effects of fracking. The impact on our health, countryside, water, food production and tourism were all mentioned.

People felt fracking was being steam-rolled through, on the back of vested interests in Government and lobbying from fossil fuel giants.

The Gathering came hot on the heels of last week’s slew of announcements on fracking.

First came the huge tax breaks for companies involved in shale gas exploration. Then the announcement of new planning guidance making it harder to protect the environment from drilling.

Friends of the Earth has long called for planning guidance to put people and the planet first. A huge thanks to all of you who wrote to your MP recently to ask for tougher planning rules.

I’m just sorry the Government hasn’t listened to your concerns. Or to the communities which are directly affected by fracking. Instead the guidance has been published without any consultation. It’ll now be much easier for companies to get the green light to explore and produce shale gas.

But we won’t be giving up. We’ll continue to argue for planning rules that properly protect communities and the natural environment. And we’ll continue to support the fantastic work of the local groups that are fighting fracking on the ground.

That includes Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, Frack Free Fylde and others who were recently given an award by Friends of the Earth for their community-led campaign against fracking in Lancashire.

With the UK’s abundant renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar and tidal – fracking for shale gas is a risk we don’t need to take. You can find out how you can help where you live on our Fracking Hub.

Please visit our fracking donation page to support our work and look out for our next online actions.

Helen Rimmer, North West Campaigner, England team

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