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England: Keeping Lancashire Frack Free
Barbara Richardson (pictured) and Ian Roberts
"If we lose here in Lancashire it will encourage energy companies to apply for permission to frack all across the country. This would affect thousands of people as well as threaten our environment" - Barbara
Barbara and Ian live in Lancashire, England, where energy firm Cuadrilla have plans to frack extensively across the county. The communities they are part of are at the heart of the fight against fracking in the UK.
Barbara lives in Roseacre, 500m from a proposed fracking site, and Ian is based in St Annes just a few miles away. It’s a beautiful area of the country.
“We moved here four years ago for the peace and quiet.” - Barbara
Both of them became involved at local meetings of concerned residents, and are now actively involved in efforts to stop fracking in Lancashire and beyond.
Barbara explains: “I am determined to fight fracking as I know what the risks are and the potential threat to my community.
If we lose here in Lancashire it will encourage energy companies to apply for permission to frack all across the country. This would affect thousands of people as well as threaten our environment.”
Ian has “been fully committed to fighting this industry since 2011” and senses that “the community is rapidly getting the message.”
He feels there is a huge amount at stake with the campaign. Should the fracking companies get their way, it could lead to “devastation of our beautiful Lancashire countryside and communities, destruction of our tourism and agricultural industries, and risks to our health and water supplies. Not to mention a continuing reliance on fossil fuels and the dreadful impact this would have on climate change.”
Thanks to the determination of Barbara, Ian and many others - in Lancashire and in Sussex, Scotland and Wales too - there has been no fracking in the UK for over 4 years.
So how are they doing it? Barbara explains that they put a lot of energy into raising awareness in their community:
“Our own local group - Roseacre Awareness Group - has around 120 full members (a lot for a small village). We produce our own leaflets and videos in response to Cuadrilla’s PR material, we hold public meetings, we go to agricultural shows and community events, we put letters in local and national press and lobby local businesses.
We encourage local people to contact their own politicians with their concerns. We have lobbied all levels of politicians from Ministers of State, MPs, County, Borough and Parish Councils.
Ian’s local campaign group, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, also uses social media has more than 1,000 followers on twitter.
As well as having a strong local base, the different residents’ groups in the area work together as “Frack Free Lancashire”. They also link up with national and international campaign groups and networks too to get their message across more widely.
Ian explains that “We have discovered that we have a community through this movement and support is growing stronger by the day.
We have an incredible network of autonomous but united groups throughout Lancashire and the UK and links with individuals and groups in Scotland, Ireland and Canada.”
He offers some words of encouragement for anyone threatened by fracking proposals in their local area:
“Once you get aboard this train you find that the rightness of our cause will instil in you a determination to keep going, and you will also find that your fellow passengers are wonderful, inspirational people. You will have found a community of diverse individuals with real values and a common sense of justice.”
And his vision for the future? “I hope to see the banishment of the fracking industry throughout the world and a complete movement away from fossil fuels and into a clean and sustainable energy future.”
In June 2015, local campaigners won the first step in the fight against fracking in Lancashire, when two fracking applications were rejected by Lancashire Council. This historic victory sends a clear message that local people don’t want fracking.
But the fight is not over. Fracking company Cuadrilla are appealing the decision, giving the Government the power to overturn it.
We asked Barbara what happens now for their campaign:
“There is still a lot of work to do.” As well as putting the brakes on Cuadrilla’s appeal, she wants “to get the UK government to stop fracking altogether - or, at very least, impose a moratorium whilst we look at all available evidence. And we want to promote and invest in cleaner, renewable forms of energy and energy efficiency.
So what can members of the Friends of the Earth International community do to help?
“Unite with us and fight fracking with every breath. To ignore this issue is too costly to our health and wellbeing and that of our planet.” – Barbara
You can help by asking David Cameron to respect Lancashire’s decision and keep the UK frack free.