Anti-Fracking Protests in Blackpool and the Awe of the Sea

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The twenty day public inquiry into whether fracking will take place at Roseacre and Little Plumpton opened on Tuesday the 8th of February at Blackpool Football Stadium. I travelled from Preston to join local people and protestors from anti-fracking groups to stand against Cuadrilla’s appeal and for democracy.

I don’t feel massively comfortable at protests. I’m not naturally smiley or sociable and am not good in crowds or with loud noise. However I went and literally stood for what I believe in and heard some good speeches from campaigners, students, faith groups, trade unions and a representative from a Lancashire based renewable energy company presenting viable alternatives to fracking.

Surprisingly for the first time I saw a small group of pro-fracking campaigners with signs saying ‘WE’RE BACKING FRACKING’ ‘JOBS JOBS JOBS.’ Following questions about how much they’d been paid they left. Hmm…

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Feelings about how the hearing will go are mixed. Speakers shared doubts about whether Greg Clark will listen to the views of Lancashire’s people and councillors after his proposal to classify fracking sites as ‘nationally significant infrastructure.’ Yet campaigners are taking heart in their success in preventing fracking over the last four years.

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Once the demonstration was over I walked from South Pier to North Pier. Nearly everywhere was closed and shuttered down. Instead of walking by forlorn skeletons hanging over abandoned horror houses, occasional shops selling sticks of rock and walking sticks with flashing lights, announcements ghosting from hidden speakers, I chose to walk by the sea.

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The huge fierce insurmountable sea crashing and crashing against the promenade with the tireless energy of its tidal pull: grey waves riding in and with a smash banking at head height in cascades of foam. After the tension of the protest it was invigorating to stand before the sea, let its saltwater splash over me, safe yet aware of its immense power.

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Wave by wave to allow the frustrations of politics to be washed away; outrage at Westminster forcing fracking on Lancashire, the futility of the political system, the lies and double-dealing of politicians, the constant need to fight against a world of men in suits, corrupt corporations and political-speak of which I have no comprehension.

To stand before the awe of the sea beneath a silver cloud-lit sky pierced by winter sunshine making rainbows in the spray. To stand before a quicksilver panorama of sky and sea.

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To see the Big Wheel stopped. The Big Wheel stopped. The Big Wheel stopped on Central Pier. And pray likewise fracking can be stopped, the wheel of industry and the political machine.

Song for the Nine

This is a song for the nine
who stood against fracking:
the nine who stood firm
the nine who stood
against the tyrants’ gall.

This is a song for the nine
who stood for land and people:
Little Plumpton,
Roseacre,
democracy and hope.

This is a song for the nine
who stood for Lancashire:
clean rivers,
unfractured land,
our children free from harm.

This is a song for the nine
the nine we will remember
for standing firm
standing for us
in centuries of song.

~

This song came to me near whole and of its own accord the morning after Cuadrilla’s proposal to frack at Little Plumpton was refused by Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee 9-4 (2 abstained).

I e-mailed it to Peter Dillon, who was also involved in the protests. He told me that night he’d dreamt of a tune. With a few tweaks it fit the wording perfectly and  wasn’t far off the tune I had when the song came to me.

I’ve sent a copy with a thank you e-mail to the nine at Devcon today. We may be singing it somewhere in Preston soon.

Lancashire Says FRACK OFF!

After a tense five days the people of Lancashire win their fight against fracking and for democracy.

GODS & RADICALS

Mr Frackhead
“I’m going to frack here! I’m going to frack there! I’m going to frack every-fracking-where!”– Mr Frackhead

It has been a fraught five days in Lancashire. On Tuesday 23rd of June decisions amongst fifteen members of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee began on Cuadrilla’s applications to drill and hydraulically fracture (frack) four wells at Roseacre and Little Plumpton on Preston New Road. Beforehand Mr Perigo (the Senior Planning Officer for LCC) had suggested Roseacre be refused and Little Plumpton should go ahead.

On the Tuesday I was part of a crowd of protestors who gathered outside Preston’s County Hall. Preston New Road Action Group, Roseacre Awareness Group, Frack Free Lancashire and Friends of the Earth came together with numerous other anti-fracking and environmental groups and local individuals to stand against Cuadrilla’s application.

I had to leave on Tuesday afternoon because I had taken temporary admin work that demanded…

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Four Wells

Four wells at Preston New Road.
Four wells at Roseacre.
Four wells in the darkness
between drilling and decision.

Four wells of steel meets shale.
Four wells boring into the mind.
Four wells of screaming poison.
Four wells of deadly sands of time.

Four wells where gas the question
scorches ears of invisible skies.
Four wells? An uneasy whisper
from underworld gods.

Four wells to decide the future.
Four wells of choice. Four wells of trembling.
By the word on four wells our land
will be saved or destroyed.

~

This is a poem I sent to Lancashire County Council’s Development Management Group along with more logical reasons why I am opposed to Caudrilla’s drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of four wells at Preston New Road and Roseacre. Protests at the County Hall will be beginning tomorrow (Wed 23rd June) as LCC make their final decision about Caudrilla’s application. For more information on how to register opposition by e-mail and join the protest see Frack Free Lancashire’s website.

Sign for fracking protest

Below are some photos from when I visited the potential fracking site at Preston New Road. The area is cordoned off and anti-trespassing notices are in place. It looks like work has already been done to prepare it for the drilling rig.

Edwina Walk, Penwortham Live 022 - CopyPreston New RoadEdwina Walk, Penwortham Live 028 - CopyEdwina Walk, Penwortham Live 054 - Copy