Tag Archives: fracking

Redlines solidarity protests in London

Two different activist groups staged protests in London today in solidarity with the so-called Redlines protests taking place in Paris at the end of the COP21 climate talks.

First were a group of around 25, calling themselves ‘Red Lines London’, who carried 10 giant inflatable cubes, similar to those used in Paris, to various sites across London.

They began with a short roadblock outside the Houses of Parliament, highlighting our Government’s increasing subsidies to fossil fuel companies while cutting support for renewable energy schemes and alternative energy research.

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Next, they crossed Westminster Bridge to pose outside the Shell HQ building.

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After a brief pause to top up the air pressure , the next target was the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery, which receives sponsorship money in a green-washing exercise from BP.

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Moving further east, the group then blockaded the entrance to News International’s London HQ near London Bridge. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been very supportive of air attacks on Syria, which is no surprise as he has oil interests along with Jacob Rothschild in the Syrian Golan Heights.

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Crossing the River Thames they carried their red lines through the City of London financial centre (where they attracted inquiries from police).

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Their fifth and final destination was the office of PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which works for fracking lobbyists to promote the idea that extreme energy extraction techniques are safe and sustainable, despite scientists’ analysis that further carbon exploitation will cause runaway temperature warming.

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———-

Meanwhile, back at Westminster,  Campaign Against Climate Change were preparing their own Redlines solidarity action starting with some speeches outside Parliament, including from Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for London Mayor.

11 Climate Campaign Redline

The action comprised unfurling a 300m red line across Westminster Bridge.

12 Climate Campaign Redline

Despite strong winds, they managed to hang on and span the whole bridge behind Parliament.

13 Climate Campaign Redline

Both UK actions were in solidarity with the thousands gathered in Paris in defiance of emergency powers to send out a message to COP21 delegates that there are red lines that must not be crossed.

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London Climate March – pics and full report

As the London 2015 climate march began to assemble in Park Lane, the weather looked poor, with very grey skies, blustery winds, and a very wet fine rain drenching everything. But despite this inauspicious start, it was clear that something quite big was beginning to happen, as the wide Park Lane carriageway started to slowly fill up in front of the makeshift stage, a converted red fire engine, outside the Hilton.

01 london climate march -© @indyrikki

And with perfect timing the rain stopped as the first invited speaker Himaya Quasem spoke on behalf of ActionAid about how climate change is already affecting her village in the south of Bangladesh, with higher sea levels, floods, increased salinity, more frequent cyclones and storms.

As more people joined the protest, Sue Ferns spoke for TUC and Prospect, offering union solidarity for the three central demands round climate, jobs and justice, as well as a transition to a low-carbon future. She decried the insane prospect of steel workers being made redundant while future steel imports will be needed in order to support low-carbon infrastructure.

All the main political parties were invited to speak, and there was some argument among organisers when the Tories failed to respond about whether a platform should be given to other parties, but sense prevailed, and those that wanted were given the platform. The first of these was LibDem, Lynne Featherstone, who used to be a minister in International Development. She spoke of visits to Darfur and Asia, and the changing patterns of rain and drought affecting the poorest communities most. She described Tory policies on renewable subsidy removal, increased subsidy on nuclear energy, and end of Green Deal/Green Investment Bank, as “utter madness”.

Next was Vivienne Westwood, in a bright yellow cardboard crown, who began with her slogan “Politicians are Criminals”. She explained they were all trapped in a rotten financial system at the root of poverty, war and climate change. With global warming at a tipping point, she showed a map of a future world made largely uninhabitable by a runaway positive feedback loop. She said there was no choice between a green economy and mass extinction, but that we, the people can do it. She offered some some specific examples of what can be done to bring about change, quoting Paul Watson, from Sea Shepherd, that regeneration of the ocean could be quickly achieved by stopping industrial fishing. The charity ‘Cool Earth’, she said, have working proposals to save the rainforest with just £100m by working with and giving power to indigenous people. In the UK, she identified the biggest battle as fracking.

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Next to the stage was Tina-Louise Rothery, one of the ‘fracking nanas’, who also stood for the Green party in Lancashire against George Osborne. She spoke, eloquently as ever, about the rapid growth of the anti-fracking movement across the country. But she warned that people power was being fought by a Government so hell-bent on pushing through that it has just announced it has taken Cuadrilla’s planning appeal out of the hands of the local Council, over-riding local government.

03 london climate march -© @indyrikki

She invited people to come to Cheshire on 4th December for a blockade at the Upton site.

She was followed by Romayne Phoenix, co-chair of People’s Assembly who, with the news of green organisers under house arrest in Paris, warned of rising government surveillance and intervention here too, and the labelling of environmental campaigners as “non-violent extremists”. Highlighting the fluidity of legality with reference to the powerful, she related the carbon economy and war as products of the capitalist system that thrives on destructive exploitation. Trade treaties such as TTIP expose an utter contempt for democracy. Although People’s Assembly was set up to fight cuts and austerity, she said it also recognises the link with climate change, and she urged people to get involved by attending their 5th December conference.

Afsheen Rashid described the ‘Repowering London’ community energy enterprise, which brings together communities as stakeholders in local green energy products. This inspirational and empowering model is facing problems as the Tories cut subsidies and withdraw promised support.

Kofi Klu spoke for the Pan-African Reparations Coalition and also for the ‘Wretched of the Earth’ Global South bloc that was due to lead the march. He spoke of the continued coloniality of power and the neo-colonialism that today represents a continuing war started by Christopher Columbus in 1492. He called for people’s control of their own resources and reparatory justice, suggesting, very plausibly, that this would have a massive effect in stopping wars and to prevent climate change.

The Royal College of Nursing was represented by Cecilia Anim who spoke about health workers on the front line of climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and Matt Wrack spoke for the Fire Brigades Union. He noted the deaths of firefighters in the United States fighting increasingly severe wild fires, and said that as well as combatting the impacts of climate change, we need to deal with the causes. He asked whether the crowd had any confidence that David Cameron would do the remotest thing to tackle either of these fronts, or whether the oil companies would, or multi-national corporations. He said ordinary people must build the international movement to invest in clean energy, and to challenge the orthodoxy of austerity, cuts, and lack of subsidies.

Jeremy Corbyn received a very warm welcome, and he began by thanking the FBU for providing the fire engine being used as a stage, pointing out that it saves people, not banks. He was joined by John McDonnell, Barry Gardiner, and Lisa Nandy, and he said at least another dozen Labour MPs were on the march. He identified the problems facing COP21 as being pollution, climate change, inequality, environmental refugees, war refugees, and resource wars. He urged the COP delegates to listen to the voices of millions telling them it is possible to reduce emissions, to slow the rate of temperature change, and to protect large parts of the environment of this planet, and to do what they had been sent there to do on our behalf. He called for government policies on sustainable transport, on support to encourage rather than close down our solar industry, on creating jobs in a growing sustainable economy. Finishing briefly, he summed up that we need to sustain and protect our planet and our environment, and he reminded us that “we are the very very many and they are the very very few”.

04 london climate march -© @indyrikki

The speeches ended with Caroline Lucas from the Green Party. She said that “to change everything, we need everyone”, and that with similar huge protests in major cities around the world we were showing we were far ahead of the governments and private corporations who try to block us, because we are more powerful than they can imagine. She warned that any announcements from Paris would not be enough and we are facing a future of drought, desertification and disease arising from 4 degrees warming and more. She called for people to take their futures in their own hands rather than leaving it up to the elite in their secure zone in Paris, and called for non-violent direct action wherever necessary.

She also called for huge investment in green jobs, for a serious debate about aviation (not a choice between Heathrow or Gatwick expansion, as neither must be permitted), and a close look at agriculture, with meat production causing more emissions than cars, boats, trains and planes put together. She gave a special shout to the divestment campaign, noting that we have to leave 80% of known oil reserves in the ground. David Cameron’s drawback of solar subsidies, slashing of zero-carbon homes, and his new dash for gas with fracking, all decry his usefulness at COP.

She ended with Arundhati Roy’s quote, “Another world is not only possible – she is on her way” and looking out across the huge crowd, Caroline said she could see that world right now, and that while Paris 2015 will be remembered for the awful terrorist attack, she hoped it will also be remembered for the start of real change as our force together will be irresistible.

With that, the march set off, led by a group of Sami people and indigenous people from the global south representing the “Wretched of the Earth”.

As tens of thousands flooded into Piccadilly, the front banner read “STILL FIGHTING CO2ONIALISM – YOUR CLIMATE PROFITS KILL”.

05 london climate march -© @indyrikki

06 london climate march -© @indyrikki

From the number of police focussed around this front group, and the Police Liaison Officers abandoning any pretence that they were anything other than forward intelligence units, it was clear something was afoot, and indeed, suddenly in Pall Mall, an unauthorised sit-down was dramatically staged outside BP’s offices there. 2nd DECEMBER UPDATE – there’s a back story here which I wasn’t fully aware of. Read this guest piece in New Internationalist from the point of view of ‘the Wretched of the Earth’, and the struggle they had with NGOs over the message of the march.

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Mindful of the huge crowd behind, organisers of the sit-down announced it would be over in a few minutes, and it passed without further incident but provided some different shots for the press.

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For the first time on a climate march, and apparently not without disagreement among the NGOs, private security personnel were hired to assist. One of their team leaders, from Apollo Events, continually hassled members of the press, and also refused to display his SIA identification, even when challenged. This is a criminal offence he didn’t seem to be aware of. It doesn’t really make organisations like Avaaz look very good when donations get used to pay for such behaviour, and perhaps they should reflect on this.

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That aside, the march snaked down through Whitehall to finish at a stage set up in front of Old Palace Yard. I continued to watch the relentless flood of banners, animal heads, dancers, and drummers arriving over the next hour, vaguely aware of a string of celebs performing on that stage.

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Meanwhile in Paris, people defied the ‘state of emergency’ ban on protests, and linked arms in their thousands after leaving shoes on the ground in the Place de la Republique, and although entirely peaceful and very poignant at first, later the authorities moved in and provoked the situation resulting in the use of tear gas, sound weapons, batons, some fighting and more than 200 arrests.

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Despite the expected largest turn-out in Paris being scuppered by arbitrary repression, with the other events around the world there are estimates of more than three quarters of a million people standing up for climate justice and calling for real action.

Paul Mobbs – Arrest the Cabinet

It’s been awhile since a blog update, mainly because I’ve been busy making films.

I’ve been working with Real Media covering their Manchester pre-launch conference. Also doing some editing for Bez’s Reality Party. Some more stuff for the Talk Fracking campaign, and a series of gigs and actions with the anti-consumerist ‘preacher’, Reverend Billy, over with his 12-piece Stop Shopping Choir from the States.

So this is the first of a few posts pulling some of my favourites together, beginning back in March when ecological researcher and futurologist Paul Mobbs attempted to get the Cabinet arrested, and when Downing Street police refused to help, he tried to perform a citizen’s arrest, before eventually being arrested himself under a Road Management section of the Terrorism Act.

His ‘Frackademics‘ research presents a compelling case against members of the Cabinet of misconduct in public office over their support for fracking in the UK. Before his arrest, he handed a dossier to police and they later gave him an official crime number relating to his evidence against David Cameron et al, so in theory, the Police claim they are investigating his allegations.

He will be representing himself in his own court case which is currently scheduled for August.

The film was a collab with Gathering Place Films.

26th Jan Infrastructure Bill vote at Parliament (fracking)

26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

Yesterday was an extraordinary day in the fracking calendar.

Protestors pulled together a rally outside Parliament with a range of speakers, celebs, and a massive fracking rig puppet. The Government’s own Environment Audit Committee (EAC) published its report on the ‘Environmental Risks of Fracking’ which unequivocally called for a moratorium. And the Government held a short final debate on the controversial Infrastructure Bill before passing it.

26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

The fracking industry is in deep trouble presently, what with the fall in oil prices, the growing number of bans worldwide (including New York) recently, and the announcement by Plaid Cymru and SNP of moratoriums on fracking.

Yesterday didn’t get off to a good start for the pro-lobby either, with the revelation of George Osborne’s dodgy private letter to cabinet and the call for a moratorium in the EACs final report.

But in the biggest illustration of what little democracy we ever had being fully subsumed by corporate interests, the new clause (NC19) calling for at least 18 months’ moratorium was voted down in Parliament, as Labour abstained from the vote to push their own agenda.

While trespass laws were altered by the Bill so as to allow frackers to drill under our homes without letting us know, to pump whatever they want down there, and to leave any equipment and chemicals etc for as long as they like, the only protection we have from the environmental effects outlined by the EAC (a committee set up by the Government to consider independent evidence and offer reliable advice), is a set of 10 “safeguards” that Labour tabled (NC9), which once again relies on effective and robust regulation (while Government regulators get hit by massive cuts because of “austerity”).

There were numerous complaints from MPs that there was not sufficient time to debate the amendments, and even that they were being asked to vote on amendments of amendments that had supposedly been sent to them by email but that they hadn’t seen. Murkiness all round it seems.

It was no surprise then, that many of the speakers at yesterday’s protest spoke of how the only option left for environmental protectors is to consider peaceful civil disobedience to disrupt the fracking industry everywhere it tries to drill.

26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

The press crowded round the celebs such as Bianca Jagger and Vivienne Westwood, as the Friends of the Earth compere, Donna Hume introduced activists from around the country, and the ex-UK Diplomat for Climate Change, John Ashton, enthusiastically addressed his first ever public rally.  

Donna Hume

Donna Hume

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood

John Ashton

John Ashton

Green MP Caroline Lucas, one of the architects of the NC19 moratorium clause spoke to the crowd before delivering a petition signed by more than a third of a million supporting the moratorium.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

The crowd also held up a solidarity message with Lancashire residents who are waiting for a Council decision later this week on Cuadrilla applications for further drilling in the beautiful Fylde area.

26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

The Lancashire planning committee has already recommended in a 684 page report that the licenses should be refused on planning grounds, and normally this would be the end of the matter, but given the Government’s dismissal of its own environmental report, and the dodgy ties the industry invariably has with policy-makers, activists are still very concerned about the vote and have called a two-day national vigil at the council offices on Wednesday and Thursday. There is a current Avaaz petition for Lancashire Council which has already collected more than 40,000 signatures which they will deliver this week. ‪
26th jan 2015 #binthebill anti-fracking rally outside parliament

London Global Frackdown action at HSBC

London activists targeted HSBC branches in central London with street theatre and speeches yesterday as part of a worldwide ‘Global Frackdown’ initiative to raise awareness and fight back against fracking.

Global Frackdown’ boasts individual partnerships in over 30 countries and about half the US states, and yesterday’s London action was among hundreds worldwide.

Publicised by ‘Frack Off London’, the action was aimed at HSBC because of its economic and underwriting support for companies like Cuadrilla in the UK, as well as globally.

Armed with a portable fracking rig prop, some great banners, a small sound system, and some ‘Rhythms of Resistance’ drummers, a group of nearly a hundred people set off from the Golden Square meeting place towards the HSBC branch at Regent Street.

Inside the branch, forewarned by police, the manager was panicking and locking the doors, trapping a few customers inside.

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With the protest in full swing outside, he peered through the keyhole (not sure why he didn’t use the clearly marked eyehole above) before letting people out.

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With the fracking rig set up outside, and a large banner “Fracking is a dirty business” held across the door, the bank remained shut for at least half an hour while the protesters listened to activists reporting from around the country, from Algeria and Romania, and also a speaker making ties with the ‘No TTIP’ campaign which was holding an event later.

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The group then set off down Regent Street, through Piccadilly, and down to another HSBC branch at the Strand, accompanied by police on motorbikes, on foot and in riot vans.

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Policing was characterised by the usual intelligence officers dressed as ‘Police Liaison Officers’, but also an excessive number of overt Forward Intelligence police. At the Strand, even a Chief Inspector arrived, along with two police photographers and videographers, who took detailed footage of everyone involved.

Considering this was clearly a fluffy, non-invasive, entirely non-criminal, consciousness-raising event, the excessive and intelligence-led policing was overtly political, and clearly demonstrated the state’s determination to push through fracking and intimidate the anti-fracking movement.

Undeterred, the anti-frackers handed out loads of leaflets to passers-by, and made a few more speeches, before taking to the street once more and heading down Whitehall towards Parliament Square to join up with the TTIP protest called there at 2pm.

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“Fracked Future Carnival” at London Shale Gas Forum on Wednesday

The Shale Gas Forum changed venue at the last minute to avoid protests. Protected by police and soldiers in a London barracks, it was still hounded at its gates by a large, noisy and lively crowd, and one protestor managed to defy all the security and sat in on a keynote speech by Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan before being ejected.

Originally, the industry conference was planned to take place at a Kensington hotel, surrounded by the unfeasibly vacuously overpriced designer outlets of Sloane Street.

The opportunity to schmooze for the day, and network with industry leaders, MPs, and even a Treasury tax man, comes at a snip – only £1000 per delegate. In the bumph for the conference, organisers were coy even about the original location, but alluding to the next round of government onshore licensing, and the coming 2015 General Election, they state without apparent irony, that the conference is an opportunity to address how the UK can take first steps towards the commercialisation of fracking “in this changing climate”.

The changing climate was of course one of the main concerns of campaigners outside the conference, with speeches from Vivienne Westwood, Vanessa Vine, and Ewa Jasiewicz among others.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

Meanwhile, inside, the delegates were more interested in analysing the ‘investment climate’, ‘gearing up for exploration in the Bowlands area’ (an area of outstanding natural beauty east of lancaster http://www.forestofbowland.com/), and ‘driving a change in public perception’.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

After some speeches and music outside the Kensington hotel, the carnival protest took to tubes, buses and bikes to reconvene at Old Street, where they briefly reclaimed the streets on the short procession to the hurriedly re-arranged venue.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

I was surprised at the lack of police on the streets, but once we’d arrived at the barracks, I realised they’d known it was a short journey which would probably keep moving, and that once there, that they had the event well secured and the protestors under keen surveillance.

The Finsbury Barracks houses the City of London Militia and is part of the Honorouble Artillery Company which is registered as a charity, but which boasts of acquiring a fine selection of silver over the past 200 years, hiring out facilities including the huge grounds (“a significant source of revenue”), and hosting a museum “for members only”. It’s not very clear what the extent of their charity is – the website boasts that one of their members raised £500 for the British Legion – I’m sure there must be more than that!

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

The place is also a hotbed of freemasonry – its “Fitzroy Lodge” enjoys a close relationship with the Grand Lodge, and is a leading lodge in the the Circuit of Service Lodges. There is also a Special Constabulary (no doubt with its own special handshakes) ‘attached’ to the City of London police.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

There’s a strong transatlantic affiliation with the “Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company” in Massachusetts, who claim to be  the oldest ‘chartered’ military organisation, and to have ‘helped develop new friendships with emerging democracies in Eastern Europe’.

So, behind the iron gates, its courtyard guarded by private security, police, and some soldiers, under the chandeliers of the ancient stain-glass windowed banqueting hall, the oil industry plotted the rape and pillage of our areas of natural beauty, the management of public perception, and the maximisation of profits with the aid of changing tax laws.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

Meanwhile outside, at the Bunhill Row entrance, and opposite at the City Road gates, aided by the Rhythms of Resistance samba band, and a powerful sound system on a campaign bus, music and speeches filled the air.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

There were representatives of the Balcombe villagers, and people from Barton Moss, with banners demanding the release of ‘Vanda’ who after being injured in her violent arrest by police has found herself in prison. Her solicitor, after reviewing film of her arrest, has called for the United Nations to bring the UK Government to account over this and other similar incidents.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

The protestors were watched by both Forward Intelligence Team officers, and also by officers from the National Domestic Extremist Unit, including Officer Skivvens, who lurked outside the local lap-dancing club for much of the afternoon.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

Police Liaison Officers worked their intelligence gathering techniques trying to engage protestors in conversation throughout the afternoon. Some of the wiser activists refused to interact.

A few delegates and suppliers entered and exited the gates, and each time TSG officers cleared the access. I left around 6 when there were still a couple of dozen people there. During the course of the afternoon, the protest overall must have been several hundred strong, and was attended by some mainstream media.

19th march 2014 frack off protests at shale gas conference in london

For me, the afternoon was a fine example of Orwellian dystopia, as masonic friends arranged military protection for the people trying to minimise their taxes and destroy the planet for profit, while the concerned activists outside are labelled extremist, as they battle against violent force and imprisonment.

Balcombe Anti-Fracking Camp

Something magical and important is happening in the normally quiet Sussex Tory heartland village of Balcombe. Preconceptions and prejudices are being challenged and broken down, national debate is being provoked, and a clear victory has already been won over Lord Browne’s UK fracking exploration company, Cuadrilla, who have announced the suspension of their drilling operations for a period of six days, while the “Reclaim the Power” climate camp is held nearby.
Yesterday marked the official first day of the camp, although organisers took the field earlier in the week and had already erected a huge marquee and some other key structures the day before, in anticipation of large numbers of supporters in a “swoop” at lunchtime.
Perhaps because of the rain, perhaps because of the drilling suspension, maybe some apathy, or other commitments, the “swoop” turned out to be more of a dribble, and at the appointed time a few dozen activists, accompanied by as many police and journalists, marched for ten minutes down the country road to the gates of the Cuadrilla site where they received a very warm welcome from the ecologically conscious road-side camp which is beginning its fourth week of occupation there.
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The ‘Reclaim the Power’ site itself is a further two miles along the road, in a field that the organisers have squatted, taking great pains to communicate with the landowner, who, reassured that the field will not be damaged, has agreed not to take any action. I was given an official ‘media tour’ of the camp, which has strict policies on photography. 03  balcombe
Dominating the centre of the field is a huge marquee, which will house plenary meetings, assemblies, workshops, and evening entertainment (a rumour was going around that ‘Primal Scream’ would be putting in an appearance). Around that are various smaller workshop tents, two kitchens, a compost toilet area, info and media tents, and camping areas. Around me, volunteers were busy setting up a plumbing system from a standing pipe, erecting solar panel arrays, wiring up lighting, and making sure the site is wheelchair accessible and child-friendly.04  balcombe
Talking to both local residents and visiting activists during the course of the afternoon, I kept hearing similar inspiring accounts of mutual trust, solidarity, and the emergence of a common realisation that ‘democracy’ has failed this community, and that ‘direct action’ is a viable and appropriate alternative.
Before taking the decision to move their planned camp from West Burton Power Station to Balcombe, “No Dash For Gas” activists held a public meeting at Balcombe village hall. Within minutes, all conversation turned away from concerns over “violent anarchists” to a lively and excited debate on ways to close down Cuadrilla’s operation and how to increase the number of people attending the camp.
Despite Balcombe Parish Council’s slightly loaded welcoming signs, 01  balcombethere is absolutely no doubt that a huge majority of local people are not just supportive, but are deeply thankful for the activist influx. Having tried the letter-writing, petitioning, lawful, democratic route for up to two years now, they have begun to realise what many minorities, dispossessed, and poverty-ridden UK communities have known for years, that the democratic process is a smoke and mirrors illusion designed to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
Balcombe residents are well-educated people, and they’ve looked at the independent environmental and economic research around fracking, turning their concerns from simple ‘nimbyism’ into what I like to coin ‘nompism’ (as in “not on my planet”). As the roadside camp, with its yoga tent, children’s crèche, kitchen and information areas, has grown over four weeks, many of those arrested obstructing delivery lorries have been locals never before involved in direct action, not activists.
The unusual alliance has helped create widespread national media coverage, and while the Daily Mail has stuck to its predictable ‘anarchist scare’ model, there has been serious informed debate, revelations of flawed planning processes and dodgy emails right to the heart of government, and inadequate attempts by the PM to respond and defend the government’s energy strategy.
Although Cuadrilla, citing advice from Sussex police, have temporarily halted operations, Monday is still planned as a day of action against the site.

main gate, rear view

main gate, rear view

Having taken a good look around, I think there should be a substantial prize on offer to anyone achieving an incursion to the drill site, whether before, during or after the planned day of direct action on Monday. This is no huge power station with long unguarded perimeter fences. The inner area is no bigger than a football field, and is protected by strong 12 foot high close-meshed security fencing topped with serious looking razor wire coils. 07  balcombe
Outside this is a no-man’s land patrolled by a dozen or more G4S security guards who all happen to be ex-Ghurkas, guard dogs, and several vans of police. This area is then surrounded by a much more basic double-layer of metal fencing which wouldn’t constitute a major obstacle in itself. 08  balcombe
The whole area is covered by floodlights, and surrounded on two sides by woodland, on one by a field of young Christmas fir trees, and on the fourth side by the road and a bank.
As well as the climate camp and the roadside camp, some folk have set up their tents next to the fir tree field and in the woodland. After a small stand-off yesterday afternoon, police have apparently agreed not to attempt any eviction of these structures, while establishing their ‘right’ to patrol the area. The campers are claiming their own rights under Section 6 squatting laws, but whether the Police honour their agreement come Monday is anybody’s guess.
There was a fair amount of national media in attendance yesterday, and much interest in the celeb support provided by Vivienne Westwood, who spoke quite eloquently about her concerns over fracking.06  balcombe
There was also a BBC team with their own resident expert, an academic from Leicester University, who had to concede many though not all of the arguments raised by very well-informed locals in a filmed ‘heated debate’ outside the gates to the site.05  balcombe
There is a packed programme of events at both camps over the weekend and into next week, and although the planned ‘swoop’ was a disappointment, there was a constant stream of new arrivals during the rest of the day, with plenty expected over the weekend. The largest transient crowd is likely to be on Sunday afternoon, when a solidarity march is planned at 3pm. 10  balcombe 11  balcombe
For full details, visit http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk or follow @nodashforgas