Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 139 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 139 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people ride the waves of empowerment and hope and fall victim to the tides of violence and anguish in varying measures. We’re tossed between disbelief that THIS is actually the state of democracy and the awareness that we can’t fail or so much crumbles with us… safe air and water, good agricultural land, a community identity, the health of our people, the respect of our children, a voice in our lives and so much more. This is a stand for sanity to win out over ‘the economy’ and for us to make our system of government face up to its recklessness. Day 138 was a thing of beauty and wisdom, where the genuine TRUTH of our movement shone bright… day 139 was an abomination of our rights, an assault on our persons and proof positive that we really are now in no-man’s land, down a rabbit hole, up a creek and yet somehow, through all this… becoming a kaleidoscopic mass of beauty by diversity and stubborn determination.




So it is that we face our days never knowing what they will bring, only the certainty that at 6:30pm there will be a meal at the Community Hub, that we will find each other more often now in kindness and empathy and that no-one can ever really go home for good but that little breaks matter. Some days are pure hell with nothing but aggressive policing, snarling security and uncertainty over what new toxins are emerging from the growing monstrosity of the forming frack site… other days (currently Mondays & Wednesdays), we feel what it would be like to live in wiser times… where the community can come together to oppose the obvious risks of this industry and not be assaulted for doing so.

Day 138 was the Anti-Fracking - Second 'Green Monday'! - where green/enviro/eco groups come to the roadside at Preston New Road to speak their reasons and make voices heard. The event was beautiful and after speeches, inadvertently ended up with what was set to be a group photo… resulting in at least 60 of us sitting down within the entrance-way to the site (completely off the road) and holding the space till the end of day at 6:30pm. We did this purely peacefully; singing, chatting and feeling the effect of non-violent direct action in practice. Work stopped and we remained without road closure due to our activities and without incident – our single aim (to stop work at the site) was met and it was a day that was good to be part of. The police behaved professionally and no action by them was required as no crimes were being committed.

Today I woke to an entirely different scene… 




...the police gathered outside the entrance to the Community Hub at Maple Farm to hold us in place as a convoy passed – they always do this to ensure no-one tries to exercise articles 10 & 11 of the Human Rights Act and use non violent direct action to protest. This morning was particularly aggressive one small woman apparently approached a delivery vehicle and I witnessed the police chase her into the entrance of Maple Farm. They caught her and threw her to the stony-gravel ground with the weight of the officers on her tiny back pressing her down. Naturally those around her rushed in defense – NONE applying violence, only shouts; stronger male Protectors were tousled with by the large number of police. The scene was ugly, disproportionate and a complete mess of policing – no control, no order, no attempt at dialogue – just out and out brutality and tragically, a vile sense of pleasure in some of the police faces.

This contrast I try to weigh up… the way GREEN MONDAY went and how today went. We also have events on Wednesdays – the one in the morning is our 5th and we call them the ‘Women’s Call For Calm’ – we dress in white and form a silent vigil for 15 minutes at the police line before each telling our story of why we’re here. This too is a good day where newcomers feel safer to join us and policing so far has been as it should be – reasonable, respectful, professional and facilitating both peaceful protest and the safety of all involved in the area from road users to workers and Protectors… the differences that mark these ‘set days’ as opposed to days without plan are: numbers – we have at least 70+ on Mondays and Wednesdays which makes policing us more challenging… and the other difference (and I think it’s maybe the key one) is demographic… our police do not so easily lunge to violence when the people before them are the retired midwives, professors, choir masters, teachers, Councillors and business people of the community. This fact shows bias and is an awful reality that results in countless injuries and needless cruel arrests of wonderful people who have given their all to stop this industry.

I don’t know how we fix any of this… only that we must. Fracking is an ugly symptom of far greater problems but in tackling it… we expose them; the corruption in government that serves industry at the expense of people’s health and wellbeing – media lies/disinformation and arrogant disregard of the very real news we experience but never get to see on TV – the myth of local government as we see it exposed as impotent in the face of Westminster commands – the abuse of our public services including the police who we see used as an extension of industry security team and with an agenda that puts daily quotas of work at a frack site, above and beyond the safety of the people who oppose it.

This ugly business is draining but thankfully these beautiful Protectors are sustaining. See you at the roadside? 

Women's Call 5
 — with Rebecca Fitton.



Monday, 14 August 2017

Green Mondays... the first



If you care about the environment, wildlife and our communities -
then 'Green Mondays' is the perfect day to be at the Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest - today is the first of these events that sees green campaigners from all walks of life, coming together to say NO to fracking here in Lancashire - or anywhere.
Honorary Nana and (since the start) anti-fracker Natalie Bennett is joining us again at the roadside for this first event. Please join us if you can for hot drinks and snacks from 10am at Preston New Road Community Action Hub - then up the road to the site.
The press release is here:
PRESS RELEASE
‘GREEN MONDAYS AT FRACKING SITE
Members of environmental movements across the North West are joining forces today to keep up peaceful pressure on both the shale gas industry and the government by bringing in more people to stand in protest at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
’Former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, who will today speak at the launch of ‘Green Mondays’.said:
"I'm disappointed to be having to make my third visit to the Preston New Road site. The public of Lancashire, indeed the UK public, have made it very clear that they do not want fracking. Lancashire County Council said no, the protectors on site, working day and night for months in the face of aggressive policing, have said fracking must not happen here, yet still Cuadrilla is throwing its shareholders money into a project that doesn't have community consent.”
Liz Stanton of Greenpeace Preston said:
“Greenpeace are joining with other anti-fracking groups to try and stop Cuadrilla from fracking Lancashire. It has not brought employment to Lancashire, it won't bring our energy prices down, but it will damage our environment. We need to look to the future and make sure our energy is clean. Renewable, clean energy has brought jobs to the northwest, it makes energy more affordable and its clean!”
Dot Kelk of Friends of the Earth - Central Lancashire, UK said:
“Fracking - the unconventional and risky extraction of shale gas and oil - poses a serious threat to our world’s climate, and to local environments and communities. Catastrophic and abrupt climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, and extreme weather events are already having an impact in the UK and around the world. To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, the world needs to stop burning fossil fuels as fast as possible.”
Gina Dowding (Lancashire County Councillor) said:
“Our voices have not been listened to, so it's now time to take action with our bodies. Being at the site demonstrates our strength of feeling against this toxic industry, and reminds the company and the Government that the community will not roll over."
The ‘Green Mondays’ idea follows on from the month-long Rolling Resistance protests organised by Reclaim The Power throughout July. As a result of the protests which have been taking place since January – works at the site are currently five months behind schedule.
Natalie Bennett added
"The Green Party has supported anti-fracking campaigns from the start, and the campaigns have been highly successful in preventing the start of an industry whose existence is indefensible on climate change, safety and wellbeing, and economic grounds. We, and the protectors, are also championing the alternatives - community-owned renewables and energy efficiency, which create business opportunities, jobs and energy security."






Monday, 7 August 2017

Carnivals, Lock Ons & Myths...

We at the roadside have become the ugly, twisted face of a community wracked and worn, torn and scarred by the brutality of an industry determined to overcome our wisdom, over-power our obligation to protect our children and over-write our cultural and community identity – manipulating perception of us as wild, reckless, wanton and hell bent on violent encounters. We are the peaceful and caring mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, the grandparents, teachers,, pharmacists, students, pensioners of this land – we look as we do, act as we do and respond as we do because we’re terrified at what comes, astonished at how un-protected and vulnerable we actually are and angry – so very very angry. Thoughts or actions no longer spared on caring as much about tidy hair, appropriate actions and behavioural norms… these things pale to insignificance, drift like an iron ball to the bottom of the list of priorities as we protect our young.

We question what is ‘lawful’ as opposed to what is essential or moral… we stare into the eyes of the police and no longer know if we should tell our children to find one if they’re lost… we look to the media and see storytelling that is so removed from the reality before our eyes – and it all crumbles… the whole fa├žade of life as it’s been presumed. Democracy ignores the wishes of the people, the ‘news’ is spun from press releases by invested parties, Councils are a folly – powerless toothless tigers with no ability to stand for the communities they are elected to represent.

Seven months at the gates of hell on Preston New Road in Lancashire, six years of opposing the threat as drills keep prodding the flesh of our country and millennia of mankind getting us to this state of being – where fossil fuels are worth more than our children, where the ‘powerful’ can bubble-wrap themselves in our ‘forces’ to prevent us getting a chance to defend ourselves. I find it so hard to accept the scenes that unfold daily here – where police goad Protectors – their job is to protect and maintain safety NOT antagonise and raise temperatures. Professionalism is another one to add to the list of myths.

So much has been done in these past 7 months of Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest and we were gifted an outstanding July with the help of Reclaim The Power month of actions; we are now in a place of transition – there’s currently a void and if we don't fill it with determined, clear and good intent - I fear what will come instead. We have choices to make about what we each do next and how we do it – many ideas are flying and groups preparing to join us… please be one of those people because the thing we've found at this roadside - is that our numbers can bring work to a halt on site; without the need for other tactics that put us in harm’s way... a carnival works as well as a war here and is much more encouraging to bring others to join us.

BUT… the roadside is NOT the only story, the Police vs. the Protectors is NOT the story – this story is about how big industry can convince our government to adopt it, even when evidence abounds that it will bring harm to the people that government serves. THAT’S the story. This is an error of system and fracking is a huge and obvious symptom… the frackers just do what they do to profit, the police just do what they do for wages, the security the same… but the government – now that’s a whole different evil.

This is not a battle that will be won solely at the gates – it never has been... in fact it’s not a physical battle that will succeed – even though that aspect plays a part. Reaching out and engaging other residents and groups all over the country, is a huge role that is played by many and the reason we have gone from no awareness of fracking just over 6 years ago – to a point where all regions have resistance groups, all main parties except Conservatives are opposed, all Unions except GMB oppose, the NGOs are with us and the power of our movement is undeniable… that was outreach. Then there’s all sorts of other work going on by members of our movement with legal challenges, alliances with renewable initiatives and transition groups, faith and spiritual acts, work to get pensions out of the companies that bring the harm and work with Councils to get them to stand up and help us get Government to back off. What we see daily - is a mere fraction of the work of our vast and very beautiful movement here in the UK and across the world.

Fighting police is futile – they merely cushion Cuadrilla from the blows… fighting Cuadrilla is possible through their finances as we delay them, cost them and turn-off their investors and supply chain… but the ultimate goal must surely be to tackle our own system of government that says yes to all that is happening and at stake.
There are many ways to help… impacting media misrepresentation by writing to complain, lobbying MPs and Councils to get answers about the risks of fracking, joining a local group that's trying to stop fracking or advance alternatives, visiting camps and sites where fracking companies have arrived and helping out with food, banners, actions etc, looking out for events to join, getting some leaflets (Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland - Greenpeace UK - local anti-frack groups can supply) and sharing the information with neighbours, in shopping centres, at clubs etc. - finding what role in this movement, works for each of us - is what will bring success 

Nanagate

Nanagate



Honouring Nanas everywhere on the 3rd anniversary of the taking of the field... we needed to raise awareness for local residents of just how close it was to their homes and it worked. Much happened before this and much since but for me... this remains the most emotional of memories. Seeing our much missed Karen Merritt  at 3:28 - so wish she was here 

Friday, 4 August 2017

To walk away, means certain harm to our children.

To all at the anti-fracking actions on Preston New Road in Lancashire... we've faced this situation time and again for 6 years as evidenced in this beautiful memory showing the welcome from residents of Balcombe ...to Protectors at BALCOMBE COMMUNITY PROTECTION CAMP.
Misinformation in the press, agitators sent by PR companies to divide us, challenges never before encountered and the mass of us that is comprised of all sorts of people from all sorts of places, with all sorts of ways - we're a kaleidoscope of humanity and not all our patterns fit at first... we all get frazzled and burned out at times as we pass through anguish... to the final acceptance that this is not a short, sharp win - it's a battle on many fronts that is relentless and sadly - inescapable. To walk away, means certain harm to our children. BECAUSE... "to walk away - means CERTAIN harm to our children"... we're stuck and growing and UNstoppable - regardless of what we face along the way

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Where do we go from here?




We can’t stop this industry by just locking-on or jumping on trucks – BUT we don't stand a chance at all, if we don’t take direct action. Since fracking companies started threatening our communities over 6 years ago… we have fought in courts, council chambers, in MP’s surgeries, at supplier premises, through community groups, at public meetings the length and breadth of the country, in the press, through our planning procedures and always with just one weapon – a little bucket of truth. And we’ve succeeded in halting the progress to fracked gas production – there is still no fracking in the UK. Right now though, the situation has become critical as fracking companies seek to use both brutal force and legal process to keep our honourable Protectors from their absolute duty to the children of our communities… NOW it matters more than ever before, that each of us do all we can in our own way, to increase the power of our movement.

Every one of us is an autonomous volunteer and that’s important – no-one should do anything they’re not ready to do and all have something to contribute. The volunteers who cook the meals, welcome the visitors, provide a cuppa and a blanket, clean the toilets, provide happy places for the children, help with media interviews, create banners, play music, perform a ritual etc. are every bit as vital to our movement as those doing the direct actions. If you’re not able to stand on a truck or put bits of your body in a tube… no worries – come cut a courgette, stir a stew, tell the children a story, make a banner, wave a banner or simply (yet crucially) bear witness to all this and contribute by sharing our little bucket of truth.

Where do we go from here… 
...reading across the networks there is a beautiful sense of urgency that is needed and it matters that this urgency touches all of us and not solely the communities under immediate threat… whether you’re from the Outer Hebrides or the Isle of Wight, this is your fight too because air and water is everyone’s business.

I’m reading groups that are talking about ‘adopting a day’ either each week regularly or on set dates, brilliant news – although actions by autonomous individuals and groups can occur at any time on any day, having a regularity and certainty of numbers on as many days as possible WILL make the difference. Posts and emails are being made and sent to get people to Preston New Road so that eventually, every day has a ‘certain something’ about it no matter what else is going on. Already, environmental groups, NGOs, the Green Party and Unions are making plans about which days they can support and so too are the visitors from our wiser neighbours (already with moratoriums and bans on fracking) from Ireland, Wales & Scotland. If your group wants to ‘adopt a day’ or then please just do it. Create an event and share it, email your friends, bring your gran... maybe have a theme if you're a group or maybe just be yourself.. 

Central organising doesn’t happen in a horizontal movement comprised of determined individuals who self-elect to volunteer to do this… it helps to have the PNR Community Hub and camps for points of information collection and sharing but really – just come, do your thing and when it’s done… come back and do it again whenever you can.

There is no agency or official body fighting for us – we’re all we have and we need each other very much