BLACKPOOL, August 18 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – A series of coordinated demonstrations took place across England and Wales Monday as anti-fracking protesters ramped up their efforts to disrupt plans to increase the UK’s exploration of shale gas.
“The actions that we are putting on today have a lot of public support, and that is what we are hearing from people,” Ashley Grey of the campaign group No Dash For Gas told RIA Novosti.
Anti-fracking activists super-glued their hands to the main door of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) In Blackpool, upset that the government had heavily redacted last week’s report, detailing the impact of shale gas exploration on rural communities. Some peaceful protests took place in London, Swansea, Manchester and Leeds.
“It is very disappointing to see a department that is supposedly neutral and full of civil servants engaging in such blatantly politicized behavior which is very clearly serving the interests of the biggest companies in the country,” Grey told RIA Novosti.
“It is no surprise that this kind of thing is happening when the Government is dominated by a number of very senior figures from the energy industry,” Grey added. “The most powerful is Lord Browne, Chairman of Cuadrilla [one of the UK’s biggest shale exploration companies], who now holds an executive position in the Cabinet Office, thanks to David Cameron.”
A recent application by the company to begin fracking in Lancashire received thousands of objections when it was formally considered by the planning authorities.
“Some 14,000 people in Lancashire have objected to Cuadrilla’s application to frack here. They don’t want the landscape to be destroyed and industrialized. They don’t want dirty energy production happening in place that is beautiful and clean. The Government’s own research shows that in the short to medium term fossil fuels and sustainable methods cost the same amount to generate,” he said.
“In the long term, sustainable energy production will make domestic fuel bills cheaper, but that is not what the Government wants or the big six energy companies,” Grey added.
A spokesman for Cuadrilla accused protesters of being “anti-democratic.”
“Cuadrilla has consistently made clear that we support the right to peaceful protest, but taking the law into your own hands – through trespass or direct action – is anti-democratic and harmful to local farmers, business and other job creators during an important time in Blackpool’s farming and business calendar,” he said.
Campaigners were still determined to continue their action, Grey said.
“We will continue for as long as we can to defeat this because we want to protect our countryside and we want safe, clean, cheap energy for everyone and we want a political system that serves everybody not just corporate elite,” Grey said.