Protectors maintain protests as fracking firm’s plans are rejected

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Protestors webChristian campaigners, including members of the United Reformed Church (URC), are maintaining their efforts to stop fracking in their community.

A film, made by the Revd Dr Kevin Snyman, shows the campaigners in action at the site of the UK’s first horizontal shale gas exploration wells in Preston New Road, Lancashire, and visited by Derek Estill, Moderator of the URC General Assembly.

According to news reports, dozens of tremors have been recorded at the site since fracking firm Cuadrilla began pumping high volumes of water underground in October 2018 looking for gas. 

Despite this, the firm’s chief executive, Francis Egan, called for the government to relax rules that forces the company to stop drilling every time a tremor measuring 0.5 on the Richter seismic scale is detected.

To the delight of the community, Claire Perry MP, the energy minister, replied in a letter that the government had no intention of altering the rules.

In February, Cuadrilla also had its application for a second site in Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool, refused on highway safety grounds.

Daleen and Tona 2 webOn his visit, Derek met with Daleen ten Cate, Missional Discipleship Mentor for the URC North Western Synod, the Revd Kate Gray, Minister of The Dandelion Community, and Tona Shaw, a Marton URC member who lives right behind the fracking site, along with other members of the community of all faiths and none.

Calling themselves protectors (of the local environment), the group’s protests involve sitting in silent worship.

Cliodhna Mulhern, of the Quakers, said: ‘What we are doing is upholding life here in this place and all the people associated with it – the protectors, police, the security guards behind the gates even the Cuadrilla workers – to bring all of us the healing that we need to be living differently.’

With a keen interest in the environment, Derek added: ‘God created the earth and as stewards of it, we have a duty to look after and protect it. Renewable energy can be a good thing, and only if sourcing it causes no harm to the environment and the community. Climate change is a real threat to us all and fracking is a process where fossil fuels are being dug up at a time when we need to stop burning them as it will only make climate change worse. The protectors are doing important work here, but we can all get involved in doing our bit to tackle climate change.’

Christian Aid campaign materials for climate justice can be found here.

If you would like to make personal commitments to changing your lifestyle to benefit the climate, then take part in the Joint Public Issues Team’s Living Lent campaign here.

Top picture: Peaceful protestors with placards. Middle picture: Tona Shaw, left, with Daleen ten Cate, right.

Published: 4 April 2019

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