Tag Archives: Lancashire

POLL: Corbyn will ban fracking; Swinson takes cash from frackers. As earthquakes get bigger, who’s right?

Frack site: The well in Lancashire contributes to global warming and climate change.

Who would you trust to decide who runs the UK, based on this issue alone?

A 2.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded yesterday (August 26) at the Cuadrilla fracking site in Lancashire, following a 2.1 quake on August 24 and a 1.6 quake on August 21.

All three were well above the level at which government guidelines demand that fracking be suspended for 18 hours. For this to happen, a quake need register 0.5 on the Richter scale.

The latest event was the 94th quake recorded by the British Geological Society in the last eight weeks – and all but one of them were near the Lancashire site. If the trend continues, it seems even Cuadrilla has admitted that properties in Blackpool are likely to suffer structural damage.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would ban fracking because of the danger it represents to the environment.

Novice Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, on the other hand, has taken £14,000 from Warwick Energy – a fracking company with several licences granted by the Conservative government.

Here’s a video of her defending that choice on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show:

Not very convincing, is it?

Now here comes the big question.

Mr Corbyn wants to hold a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Boris Johnson’s (fracking-supportive) Conservative government next week, leading to the formation of a caretaker government with him at its head, which would be limited to just two aims: stopping a ‘no deal’ Brexit and calling a general election.

Ms Swinson says she would only support such a plan if Mr Corbyn steps back and allows another MP to be nominated as leader of such a government, because she says he is unfit to be prime minister.

For the purposes of this question, ignore the fact that Ms Swinson has said she would go into coalition with the Conservatives again, and answer this question:

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Watch this short film about the way the police target disabled people at protests

Frack site: The well in Lancashire contributes to global warming and climate change.

It seems I have opened a can of worms with This Site’s article about Lancashire police reporting disabled anti-fracking protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions.

I have been contacted by a representative of Gathering Place Films, which has been filming over the past five years for a long form documentary about fracking in the UK. This person told me, “What we have observed while filming, around the policing of this movement, has been quite surprising.”

The film is entitled Targeting Protesters and its publicity material states: “The police have identified and targeted prominent anti-fracking campaigners, key protest organisers and invariably protesters with disabilities – in order to undermine or neutralise their effectiveness in challenging the interests of the shale oil and gas industry.”

See the evidence for yourself:

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Police admit reporting disabled anti-fracking protesters to DWP – to have their benefits cancelled?

Discrimination: The man on the floor is Nick Sheldrick, who is paralysed from the waist down. Protesters say police pushed him out of his wheelchair during an anti-fracking protest in Lancashire during July 2017. Police said they were moving him out of the way of a lorry, but they would, wouldn’t they?

Is this fascism?

People with disabilities who exercised their right to protest against fracking (in accordance with the United Nations convention) are being reported to the Department for Work and Pensions by Lancashire police, apparently in the hope that their benefits will be cancelled as punishment for daring to leave their homes.

According to Disability News Service, police forces have been accused of targeting disabled people involved in anti-fracking protests with violence [see the image above for a possible example] – and now protesters in Lancashire have accused their local police of passing information to the DWP.

DWP practices mean anyone investigated for fraud has their benefits stopped before any guilt or innocence is proved. This has prompted some to say that malicious prompting of disabled people for benefit fraud – without evidence – should be considered a hate crime:

It seems Lancashire Police had no such evidence, despite their tweeted claim:

Information to suggest fraud may be being committed, is it? John Pring of DNS asked the obvious question:

But what “clearly suggests fraud may be being committed”, if disabled people are out at a protest? Tom Artingstall put the question in its baldest possible terms: “So, to be clear, @LancsPolice officially consider disabled persons being outside their homes to ‘clearly suggest that fraud may be being committed’? Please confirm or clarify your official position.”

I have seen no response to this question. In its absence, members of the public have been led to draw their own conclusions.

Katie de Long, for example, pointed out: “You are encouraging officers to exercise rampant ableist bias in the hopes of frightening disabled people out of protesting. You can’t tell someone’s med status from looking at them- and encouraging reassessment of benefits is a form of retaliation. Shame on you, every one.”

FeistyWeevil picked up on the wording used by the police spokesperson: “Clearly suggests? How? Example: To be eligible for PIP a claimant’s impairment(s) has to affect their ability to complete an activity on more than 50% of days in a 12 month period, not ALL the time. You are meddling in something you have no place in out of spite. Unprofessional.”

Evander suggested: “So you aren’t “qualified to make any medical assessments” but still decide that simply being outside as a disabled person “clearly suggests fraud”? You know nothing about the sheer amount of diseases and conditions, including ones that fluctuate.”

And This Site’s old friend Paula Peters concluded: “There is a thing called the Right to Protest as ratified by the UN convention. The actions of your police force & officers are horrendous and disgusting. Attacking disabled protestors then reporting them Is the lowest of the low. No wonder you are called the enemy of the state.”

There is more to this story than meets the eye.

Consider the following thread by Mark Brown:

“As a disabled person your life is subject to others’ tolerance.” “Disabled people and people with mental health difficulties have been pushed to the edge of [our] community.” “As a result of 15 years of anti-benefits rhetoric, [the] public feels it has [the] right to subject those it does not like to scrutiny and try [to] grass them up maliciously.”

Isn’t that exactly the kind of “othering” that happens in fascist states? Minorities to be persecuted are treated as somehow less than the favoured majority and it is intimated that they should not enjoy the same rights as the rest of society. So, when they are persecuted by the public, the authorities turn a blind eye. And when they are persecuted by the authorities, who will stand up for them?

Mr Brown concluded: “In a different culture, one free from the suspicion of Disabled people, it would not cross anyone’s mind to even question someone’s right to benefits because they were demonstrating. In this one, it’s too many peoples first thought. ‘How dare you be in need and also a person?'”

The Labour Party has challenged the Conservative government on this attitude, likening it to the “hostile environment” policy inflicted on people from foreign countries who were invited into the UK to rebuild our nation after the ravages of World War II, and then persecuted them when Theresa May decided they were no longer needed.

And, as Marsha de Cordova pointed out in Parliament, the effects of this policy are more far-reaching than an attempt to cause trouble for a few disabled protesters:

So, again, I ask: Is this fascism? I think so. And I wonder – it isn’t very many years since the UK stood as a beacon of hope against fascist states and the discrimination – the persecution – they promote. How did we allow our nation to become the enemy?

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Teen climate activist shames the world – but the Tories are trying to expand fracking across the UK

Frack site: The well in Lancashire contributes to global warming and climate change.

Climate change “negotiators” got a hard lesson in their own shortcomings – from a minor.

Greta Thunberg is only 15, but she packed more maturity into her three-minute speech than we’ve seen in decades of mealy-mouthed “negotiations” between representatives of national and international economic interests.

The Swedish activist shamed her elders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, where representatives eventually managed to reach a weak agreement over how to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But everybody there knew they weren’t doing nearly enough to achieve that goal, which is why Ms Thunberg’s words had such bite.

Here’s her speech:

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she told an audience entirely composed of her elders (but clearly not her betters). “Even that burden you leave to us children.

“Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

“It is the sufferings of the many that pay for the luxuries of the few… We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.”

She also said: “You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.”

Now consider the current court case in the UK over plans by our Conservative government to expand fracking.

If ever there was an example of the many suffering to support the luxuries of the few – the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money – it is the fracking industry in the United Kingdom.

The current case highlights new planning guidance by the government which makes it easier to establish fracking sites. The document orders local authorities to facilitate the establishment of such sites, and proposes the removal of the need for new wells to get planning permission.

The government did not carry out any assessment of the impact its plans would have on the environment, and the guidance was imposed on the country without any public consultation.

It seems clear that James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, qualifies as one of the people Ms Thunberg describes as “not mature enough to tell it like it is.”

So do former prime minister David Cameron and his successor Theresa May. At a time when sustainable energy has never been cheaper or easier to supply, one is led to ask why they continue to kowtow to fossil fuel corporates like Cuadrilla bosses Roy Franklin and Francis Egan.

Fracking at Cuadrilla’s only UK site, in Lancashire, was halted again on December 11 after yet another earth tremor was caused by the process. This one measured 1.5 on the Richter scale, causing a woman who lives 1.6 miles from the site to say she heard a loud “bang” and her house shook. A Cuadrilla spokesperson said the effect would have been “like dropping a melon”.

We may conclude from this that the spokesperson is “not mature enough to tell it like it is” either.

But what is to be done in the face of such monumental selfishness, such wilful ignorance, such naked greed?

I’d like to think change is coming, whether the government figures and corporates named above like it or not – but I don’t think it will, unless somebody does something shocking.

I think someone would have to grab Messrs Cameron, Brokenshire, Egan and Franklin, along with Mrs May, drag them to the fracking well in Lancashire, and throw them down it – and then fill it in on top of them.

That’s what it would take to get these people to look up from counting their money and pay attention – the threat of extreme sanction.

But I can’t advocate such extreme measures – and the system is skewed in favour of the privileged. So what’s to be done?

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Lancashire fracking halted after 17 EARTHQUAKES in nine days

Graphic showing progression of tremors over time. A is the first tremor (October 18) and L was on October 25. Tremors C and E are in almost the same location.

Carbon fuel energy company Cuadrilla has been forced to stop its controversial fracking operation in Lancashire after no fewer than 17 earthquakes took place there within nine days.

The British Geological Society recorded three tremors on October 18, one the following day, one on October 20, six on October 24, three on October 25 and and three on October 26.

The intensity of the quakes had been increasing, to the point at which a tremor was declared a “red event” and operations had to be halted.

The incident prompted calls for fracking to be banned:

But the corrupt Conservative government has no intention of halting what it sees as a potentially lucrative income stream for the already-very-rich, and never mind the cost to the environment or the poor.

The Tories know how unpopular this policy is, though – and that is probably the reason Energy Minister Claire Perry has been holding secret meetings about exporting fracking across the world, breaking the Ministerial Code in doing so.

Perry and officials met with all the key shale players – Cuadrilla, Ineos, iGas and Third Energy – along with oil and gas companies including BP on 21 May. While her meeting with wind power executives on the same day was recorded on an official transparency register, the shale event was not.

Minutes of the shale meeting, which were eventually released under freedom of information rules, reveal:

  • Perry hopes to “create a ‘UK model’ for shale gas extraction which can be exported around the world”.
  • The UK plans to “make a virtue” of the industry’s regulation to help “export expertise abroad”.
  • The government will make the case for shale gas to “get past myths on the topic”.
  • Gas, including that extracted from shale wells, is seen as a key part of the future energy mix.

It will be interesting to see how the Tories “get past” the “myth” that fracking causes earthquakes!

Also worth noting are the suggestions that polluting processes like fracking, that produce global warming fuels like shale gas, are considered by the Tories to be a “key part” of the UK’s future energy providers.

And the suggestion that the Tories will “make a virtue” of the way it regulates the process is extremely sinister as it is tacit acknowledgement that the process is harmful.

Despite the obvious harm being done to the fabric of Lancashire, fracking is set to continue there – and may expand to more than 100 sites across the UK, if the Conservatives have their way. Vast swathes of land will be rendered unstable and water sources polluted in order to enrich a small number of greedy speculators. There are far more effective – and far less polluting – sources of energy that could be exploited instead but the Tories are trying to close them down.

If you are concerned about the effect of fracking, then you have only one option:

Remember this at the next election.

Fracking set to start in Lancashire today after legal challenge failed


Fracking hell.

Shale gas fracking in Lancashire is set to begin tomorrow after a judge in London refused to grant an injunction this afternoon to halt the operation.

The failed legal challenge was brought by an environmental campaigner who claimed Lancashire County Council’s emergency response planning and procedures were inadequate. The judge said there was no “serious issue” to be tried and rejected the claim.

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