From occupations of government departments and energy firms’ buildings to blockades at drill sites in Yorkshire and Blackpool, UK anti-fracking protesters aimed to shut down the country’s shale operations this week in a day of peaceful protest against the dirty industry.
The protests were part of a day of direct action by the Reclaim the Power group, a pressure group opposed to fossil fuel consumption and extreme energy extraction.
The group has set up a weeklong protest camp near a potential fracking site near Blackpool, which includes workshops and training sessions as well as the day of direction action.
In London, activists superglued themselves to the doors of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, drawing attention to a government report released last week containing 63 redactions on the potential impacts of shale exploration on rural communities.
In Swansea, a group of residents, students and graduates shut down construction of the university’s Bay Campus, objecting to the “tens of millions of public money being funnelled into research on fracking” via the University.
The activists also targeted fracking companies, blockading the entrance to the London headquarters of energy firm iGas – responsible for drilling in Barton Moss – and, in the biggest protest of the day, surrounding the offices of Cuadrilla, near Blackpool airport.
One local Blackpool resident, David Martin, who joined yesterday’s protests, said:
Since arriving in our community, Cuadrilla has caused two earthquakes, failed two wells… and at the very least, misled local business owners and residents about the true business of shale gas extraction and what it will mean to us…
In France, Germany and various parts of Australia, Canada and Europe, the practice of fracking is banned. We’d like to know what it is that they realise, and what our own government is ignoring.
Around 100 protesters gathered at Cuadrilla’s offices, while 12 gained access to the building, barricading themselves inside.
Companies associated with fracking companies were also targeted by the action, with a staged die-in at HSBC and protests at Cuadrilla’s PR firm, PPS.
In East Yorkshire another group of protesters spent five hours glued to the gate of a drill site at Crawberry Hill, protesting over alleged safety breaches by Rathlin Energy at the nearly West Newton drilling site.
Hannah Jones of the Reclaim the Power Network said:
We’re taking direct action in solidarity with the local community who want Rathlin out. Rathlin have no social license to operate here. Fracking is dangerous. It will escalate climate change and keep us dependent on dirty, privately controlled energy. Most people in the UK want energy in public hands and they want it safe and clean. Fracking will never deliver that. When governments won’t act in the public interest, it’s up to the public to take action.