5 Ways We Can Still Stop Fracking in the UK
Fracking bosses are hoping they’ll finally get their way in Lancashire over the next few months — and once their drills hit the floor in Lancashire, fracking could spread to swathes of the UK.
Theresa May is willing this on. But drilling for fracked gas would mean more climate change. It’d mean fossil fuel companies getting their mitts on our countryside and it’d mean noise, air and light pollution for local people. Which is probably why even though Theresa May backs fracking, a majority of British people stand against it.
We can’t let the government overrule public opinion to pollute our planet. So if you stand against fracking, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve still got the time & the tactics to stop it.
Here are 5 ways we can win.
1. By convincing local politicians
Just last week, Maryland became the third US state to ban fracking. The decision came after years of hard work by campaigners, who eventually convinced a Republican senator to outlaw it. If they can do it in the US, we can surely do the same here too.
The Conservatives have talked a big game on “localism” and though this didn’t stop the government overruling Lancashire council’s resounding ‘no’ to fracking, it has seen them hand out powers elsewhere.
Newly created Mayors will have powers over local planning, including fracking licenses — and overruling the very Mayors they created could get seriously embarrassing for the government.
The Greater Manchester area has been earmarked for possible fracking sites and on 4th May, the city will vote for its first directly elected Mayor. Outlawing fracking here could really thwart the plans of companies like Cuadrilla.
Labour’s candidate Andy Burnham has said that he will oppose fracking if he’s elected. If we can pressure the other candidates to make the same pledge, we could make Manchester frack-free. Even better, it would set an example to other parts of the UK and a strong message to our government.
If you’re in Manchester or beyond, here’s some top tips about how to contact local politicians.
2. By using the law
This month the formidable anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire have taken the government to court, arguing that the government minister in charge of fracking didn’t properly assess the environmental impacts of fracking or the threat to the countryside. We don’t yet know the result of these court cases but if successful it could put an end to Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire.
Court cases against fracking have had success elsewhere too — 6 teenagers in Colorado took oil and gas regulators to court, arguing more should be done to protect young people from the effects of drilling in their local area. The court found in their favour just last week.
So if fracking comes to your local area, you’ll want to think about how you can use laws to stop it. In the meantime, you can support others — like the Preston New Road campaign group who are spearheading one of the two court cases taking on fracking in Lancashire.
3. By asking suppliers not to make deals with frackers
Last week was the first of two weeks in which environmental campaigns group Reclaim the Power will peacefully block fracking materials from getting to the fracking site in Lancashire. To frack, Cuadrilla will need things like sand and chemicals. But if company after and company begins to realise that they’ll be blocked wherever they go and that their reputation will be tarnished by their involvement, that could put another nail in the coffin for fracking.
4. By joining local groups
In just a few years around 400 anti-fracking groups have sprung up all across the UK. They’ve been at the forefront of arguing the case against fracking in local communities and they’ve often risked it all to take a stand.
The anti-fracking Nanas, for example, occupied the Lancashire fracking site and fronted countless rallies and campaigns.
Our own Greenpeace groups are full of passionate anti-fracking campaigners. Why not join one today? Whether you want to help them communicate the campaign, or learn how to take peaceful direct action, there’s room for everyone.
5. By taking part in peaceful resistance
Once you’ve got involved with a local group, peaceful protest is going to be one of the biggest tools at your disposal.
Not only can peaceful resistance physically stop frackers in their tracks, it can create a stir in the media too.
Just think about how totally toxic drilling in the Arctic became for Shell. Everywhere their oil rigs went, they were blocked by people, whether it was Greenpeace or local Indigenous activists.
But it wasn’t just inconvenient, it was also embarrassing for a company that cares about its reputation. From press conferences to family get togethers, the bosses would’ve been fearful of embarrassing questions about their work. After years of campaigning Shell said they didn’t want to drill for oil in the Arctic any longer — so it seems that the risk to their reputation and their bottom line were too much. By using peaceful resistance once more, we can make sure the same thing happens with fracking.
Whether you’re in Lancashire or Loughborough, let’s stand against fracking — and let’s win!
India Thorogood is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace UK