UK David Cameron has been given a taste of what is to come if he opens the country up to shale gas, as Greenpeace campaigners creating a fracking site at his countryside home.
The latest anti-fracking protest came as the Queen set out the government’s plan for the coming Parliamentary year, laying the way for changes in trespass laws which would allow fracking companies to drill on private land without the owner’s permissions.
The Queen’s Speech marks the official opening of the UK Parliament and provides a to-do list for all of the government’s aims for the year ahead.
This year’s speech – the last of this Parliament – the Queen said the country would “champion efforts to secure a global agreement on climate change” while at the same time angered environmentalists by confirming controversial plans to accelerate the development of fracking projects and watering down zero-carbon homes rules.
The government is looking at changing the laws to allow companies to frack under people’s home without even having to ask permission, amid concerns that efforts could otherwise be stymied by lengthy and costly court proceedings.
Taking to Twitter earlier today, Green MP Caroline Lucas said the inclusion of the Bill in today’s speech was concerning, showing the UK government was well aware of just how unpopular the process was amongst the public.
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) June 4, 2014
Donning hard hats and high-vis jackets, campaigners attempted to give Prime Minister David Cameron an insight into the inconvenience and disruption that local communities could face if fracking spread across towns and village across the UK.
They erected a fence around the Prime Minister’s country residence in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean, Oxfordshire, with a sign reading:
We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home.
The activists are also trying to deliver a lottery-style over-sized cheque for £50, in reference to the maximum compensation ministers are willing to pay to an individual home or landowner for allowing companies to drill under their property.
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said:
The Prime Minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Having failed to reassure people that fracking is safe or good for Britain, Cameron is now railroading it through with a ‘bungs and bulldozers’ approach.
Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change.
A recent YouGov survey showed three quarters of people in Britain – including 73% of potential Tory voters – oppose the plans’ to strip people of their access to clear the way for fracking.
Over 460,000 people have so far joined a legal block set up by Greenpeace based on the access rights homeowners have over the ground below their property.
The UK government recently announced an onshore licensing round that would open up more than half of Britain to fracking, and officials have indicated that national parks, cities and even urban commons will not be off limits.
This week, the opposition movement to fracking in the UK was joined by some high profile supporters as Paul McCartney, singer Thom Yorke, actress Helena Bonham-Carter and artists Tracey Emin joined a host of other public figures in calling for a moratorium on fracking until a independent and transparent public debate was held into the potential risk of the dirty industry.
Video to share: Greenpeace activists ‘frack’ David Cameron’s country home