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Fieldnote from the fracking frontier

policy brutality in UK

To give you all a feel for the (often heroic) battles for environmental justice happening on the ground – here’s a recent field report from a group trying to prevent fracking in Barton Moss, UK. We write scientific reports that illustrate the folly of the fracking logic (e.g. on unburnable fuels), blogs on fracking (policy) events and we map the various struggles. But others are camping for months in the midst of fierce winter storms to make justice happen. This is what they have to deal with:

During a week of ‘unprecedented’ storms across the UK, and when Chief Met Office Scientist Dame Julia Slingo stated that “all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change”, the Protectors of the Environment stationed at Barton Moss Anti-Fracking camp have near enough had their camp destroyed. And yet, in spite of 90 MPH winds which devastated half their tents, local support helped them win through to achieve their greatest victory to date, in the ongoing struggle to end drilling at Barton Moss.

For the first time since the camp began in November, a mixture of local people and environmental protectors achieved a complete halt to the endless stream of heavy industrial vehicles, harmful industrial chemicals and radioactive materials passing into the I-Gas drilling site.

Following over two months in which allegations of police brutality and false arrest have been clearly documented on social media footage, a District Judge yesterday decided that Barton Moss Road is actually a public footpath and not a highway as claimed during police arrests. As a result of the ruling, a convoy of eight heavy industrial vehicles remained backed up along the entrance to the road, with police apparently unable to force the delivery through, in their usual aggressive style.

There was some cause for celebration by local people who had been constantly unheeded in attempting to inform police about the state of road as a ‘Public Footpath’. Footage of the police removing the sign at the beginning of the protest has also been widely circulated on social media, to the greater embarrassment of the Greater Manchester Police (GMP), who have been widely criticised for their heavy-handed approach during the protest ( see video proof below)

As was stated during the ruling in Manchester Magistrates Court, because Barton Moss Road was a public footpath rather than a highway, GMP couldn’t charge anyone for blocking it. However, in spite of their success at stopping the convoy, environmental protectors voluntarily allowed the lead huge orange truck into the site for fears of un-necessarily blocking the access to local traffic into Barton Moss Road. The rest of the massive convoy, eventually admitted defeat and was seen to drive off at around 5.30pm, to the sound of cheering protectors and passing drivers who beeped their horns in support of the camp.

No trucks attempted to enter the site on Friday, amidst a scaled down police presence at Barton Moss Road. Protectors remain vigilant in their aims to halt access to any more convoys of harmful chemicals, radioactive materials and drilling equipment. There have been many scientific studies proving that the controversial process known as ‘fracking’, contributes to climate change, and should be rejected for the many greener energy policies available to the government, as favoured by the governments of France, Sweden and Germany.

Here is footage showing how a legal advisor (pictured) was brutally attacked by police: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPFtx4Q0VNk (watch from minute 8 onwards especially).

3 comments

  1. Police are back with more on frontline than ever. Pushing and goading our protectors. I believe we are right to protect our and from fracking after seeing the devastation left behind in other countries. We also have the right to peaceful. Protest. Please can our government act now before it is too late for our enviroment. Stop fracking. Renewables will also Boost our economy. They are better for our enviroment too.

  2. Thanks for your protest and for writing about it. In Poland we also do our best to help the communities defending their land against fracking. Like in Zurawlow, where they are stopping Chevron’s attempts to drill for almost night months already. Next Friday we have in our “Green Center M1″ in Warsaw the opening of an exhibition of photos called “Dirty benefit”, showing the victims of companies like the one that is searching for shale gas in Barton Moss.

    We will also speak about your protest! We must network all over the world to stop fracking forever. British government is crazy using police’ force against citizens – people will not forget it. In France in Notre-Dame-des-Landes more police forces were acting with violence, more and more people were comming to oppose. Violence is never a good way in democracy against pacific citizens’ attempts to defend their land and water.

  3. On Nick said:

    thanks for you comments, Adele and Ewa. We strongly believe in global networking on this issue – and we also believe in the potential to bring this drilling technique to a full halt – as is the case in many countries and regions already. If you type ‘fracking’ in our search function you will find much more blogs on the issue, from Spain to Ireland to Romania and more. Also see our report 6 and soon we’ll have a map of fracking conflicts around the world. Good luck