Faith protestors celebrate after government U-turn on fracking

Daleen Ten Cate and a fellow protestor at the Preston New Road fracking site credit Kevin SnymanChristians who have long campaigned for a halt to fracking in Lancashire have called the government’s U-turn on shale gas extraction a “community win”.

On 2 November, the government announced fracking would not be allowed in England after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said it was not possible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by the practice.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla operates the UK’s first horizontal shale gas exploration wells in Preston New Road, Blackpool, where dozens of tremors have been recorded since it began pumping high volumes of water underground in October 2018 to look for gas.

Daleen Ten Cate, Missional Discipleship Mentor for the United Reformed Church North West Synod, who with a team of others form part of the Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This moratorium is a community win–a huge win–against all the odds, against the world's biggest corporate lobbying sector, the multi-trillion pound fossil fuel industry and its government backers. Let’s just hope the prime minister didn’t just use this decision to gain votes in the next election.”

The action group also fears the moratorium is just a temporary measure after Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, said shale gas extraction may be put on hold until it is proved safe.

Despite this, on 9 November, the group will hold a party to celebrate “not a ban but a very good pause” and to mark the 1038th day, nearly three years, of peaceful protests.

Faith protestors at the fracking site in lancashire credit Ros Wills“These years have brought together residents, campaigners and supporters from across the country to stand, stall, witness and be part of the range of activities that have kept Cuadrilla from getting into full production,” the group said.

“We have all been part of something entirely unique - here in-person or online supporting. Each brought an individual push and power into this incredibly demanding campaign: the honkers of horns, creators of meals, lock-on bakers, risk takers, legal observers, film makers, photographers and orators... the herbalists, druids, monks, Pagans, Quakers, URC, Methodist and Anglicans... Friends of the Earth, the online sharers, genuine carers, Morris dancers, bands and choirs... the Samba players, all-night-party makers, truck surfers and cat-herders, shower-providers, washers of clothes and the masters of this road... press release writers, interview responders, gate-camp crew and all who continue to do everything that's brought us this far.”

In August, Cuadrilla was suspended from operating in the area after a magnitude 2.9 earthquake took place.

 

Picture 1: Daleen Ten Cate with a fellow protestor at the Preston New Road fracking site/The Revd Dr Kevin Snyman
Picture 2: Faith protestors holding a peaceful protest at Preston New Road/Ros Wills
Published: 6 November 2019