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Our government prefers fracking to democracy

Friday 14-08-2015 - 10:51

Back in 2014, Cameron told us we were going all out for shale gas. But it didn’t happen because we didn’t let it happen. Right across the UK, the public were loud and clear: We don’t want fracking. Fracking is a bad idea. But still, the government isn’t listening.

There are really good reasons that communities come together to oppose fracking. On a local level, it’s very dangerous. We gave it a go in Blackpool, but unfortunately, it caused earth tremors. And you know what they say about earth tremors: if what you’re doing is causing earth tremors, it’s best to stop. So we did.

Globally, we need to keep 80 per cent of fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown. A dash for gas flies in the face of this crucial goal. That’s why it’s been incredible to see groups like those in Lancaster stand alongside people around the world to oppose new fossil fuel frontiers wherever they try to open up.

In June this year, we won in Lancashire. The sheer force of public opinion couldn’t be ignored. We didn’t want fracking, and the local authority listened. They didn’t approve the plans and we were still proudly frack-free.

But this week, the government are reaching for the drills again. They’ve called fracking a “national priority”. Our secretary of state for energy and climate change Amber Rudd wrote a full piece in the Sunday Times in favour of fracking.

They are really keen on this stupid idea, and they won’t let little things like public opinion, local authorities or democracy get in the way.

The local government in Lancashire listened to the people, and turned down the proposals for fracking. That seems pretty cut and dry. But not to the government, apparently. Just two months later, Rudd and secretary of state for communities and local authorities Greg Clarke have told local authorities that they’re taking these decisions out of their hands. 

The message from government is clear: We’re fracking. We’re fast-tracking this. And we do not care what you think about it.

This is quite a situation. The secretary of state in charge of local authorities thinks local authorities shouldn’t make local decisions, and the secretary of state in charge of climate change thinks we should go all out for fossil fuels. It would almost be funny, if we weren’t heading towards 5 degrees of warming. And if public opposition to fracking weren’t higher than it’s ever been.

Our government presents these decisions on energy policy as if they’re practical and sensible. They aren’t. They call gas a bridge fuel, but this doesn’t square with the commitments of our Climate Change Act. They promise thousands of jobs, with no basis for believing that there will be. And all the while, we see more and more attacks on renewables.

This is a particularly rubbish week to get this news. Let’s remember what’s actually going on here. Just yesterday, we used up all the resources we can use for the year. The entire year. Don’t bother double checking the calendar. It’s not New Year’s Eve. And we’ve used up all the stuff – stuff like, you know, meat and vegetables and wood and whatever – that we can use on the entire planet. And it’s only August.

How the hell have we managed that?

When you go to the supermarket, you get a bunch of food for your week’s meals, right? And then you sort of portion it out, use the ingredients you need for each meal on each day of the week, so you have food for the whole week. Simple, yeah? We manage that just fine. Works a dream. But what we’ve just done is eat all our food by Thursday, even though we weren’t even hungry half the time. Just kept shovelling it in. 

There are no easy solutions once we’ve literally run out of everything. You can try and ask your mate: “Oh, mate. Can you pop to the moon and get me some grain?”

“No I can’t, mate”, your mate will reply. “There is no grain on the moon”.

When we remind ourselves of how serious our social, economic and environmental crises are, these decisions around fracking are even more frightening. This is exactly the opposite of the steps we need to be taking.

The rush for gas is presented as being inevitable. But make no mistake – it’s ideological. The government is ignoring climate science and democracy itself for the sake of unbelievably short sighted policies, and we can’t allow this to happen. It’s going to be a bigger fight this time, but I know we can stop it again. 

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