This week sees the start of three months of sustained action on the 'front line' of fracking in Fylde.
The action begins on Tuesday 3rd April with a 100 Women March to be led by the Lancashire Nanas and Women Against Fracking, who will be wearing the sashes of the Suffragettes to mark the hundred years of the vote, and to highlight what campaigners call "other rights that have become relevant today...
"...the right to protect themselves and their children from the ill-effects of polluting industries, the right to protect reproductive health and the right to be heard and listened to in the process of government approving plans seen as detrimental to health...
"Peer-reviewed studies show that expectant mothers who live near active fracking wells have an increased risk of giving birth prematurely and for having high-risk pregnancies as well as increases in childhood illnesses" they add "Studies also show a link between increased cases of breast cancer and proximity to fracking wells; the women plan to leave behind bras at the fracking site in order to draw attention to this aspect of opposition to fracking..."
On Wednesday 4th April, the women will participate in a Call for Calm, a silent ritual that has been taking place for 35 weeks. After this there's a 'Yarn-On', which involves knitting baskets at the entrance gates to the fracking site.
5th April has been dubbed Toxic Thursday and will showcase the inadequacies seen in the county's Local Plan for dealing with toxic spills that occur at fracking sites. White overalls and face masks will be worn and there will be information and demonstrations of the types of materials likely to be encountered during a fracking operation. The campaigners will also be drawing attention to how regulators and emergency responders are able to safely deal with the new industry in a densely populated and busy area.
The final day of Women's Week will be Funeral Friday, referencing Utah Midwives who encountered increasing health issues amongst newborns and miscarriages amongst the women living near active fracking sites. Dolls, representing lost children, will be placed at the fracking site where the women will hold a 'funeral' service followed by a wake.
Following this week, other actions, organised by the United Resistance campaign, will begin...including North West Week between 16th and 20th April. Frack Free Greater Manchester is organising a coach for Monday 16th April...
"Our aims are to show solidarity with local campaigners and to force the police to close the site entrance because our sheer numbers make safe operations impossible" states Frack Free GM "Protests have already delayed the start of fracking by several months; we need to finally persuade Cuadrilla that it's not worth it- fracking will never make them a profit."
The coach leaves Chorlton Street, Manchester at 9am and returning from PNR at 3.30pm. Cost is £10, £5 concessions – click here for details and to book
The full line-up of actions is...
Week Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours
Week Three, 16th - 20th April: North West Week
Week Four, 23rd - 27th April: No Faith in Fracking
Week Five, 30th April - 4th May: Art And Music Against Fracking
Week Six, 7th - 11th May: Save Our Land
Week Seven, 14th - 18th May: Uniting the Roses
Week Eight, 21st - 25th May: Local Camps and Health day
Week Nine, 28th May - 1st June: International Week
Week Ten, 4th - 8th June: Unions
Week Eleven, 11th - 15th June: Green Party Week
Week Twelve 18th - 22nd June: Preston New Road
Week Thirteen 25th - 29th June: Reclaim the Power and Finale Week
For more details see the United ResistanceUK Facebook page – click here
Tina Rothery's Open Letter to the Police...
Dear Police Officers
What are we to do? How do you see this playing out? The reality that you as well as we (those acting to stop fracking) see is that this government wants hundreds of frack sites here in Lancashire and many thousands across the country – and equally clear is that residents throughout the UK will continue to act to stop this. It's been 7 years now and we're still here, still growing and not stopping. Our opposition in England is a part of a worldwide movement that has succeeded in getting this industry halted and we know we can succeed because of this…Scotland, Ireland North and South and Wales have set examples and England is the last place still pursuing fracking in the UK.
We are in the middle of an undeniable dilemma because none of us want to see our councils bankrupted by the cost of policing for fracking sites and none of us want to witness our communities denied proper levels of policing because you're being used as truck escorts for fracking vehicles ...yet the government has seen fit to use officers like you, to enable a despised industry to be forced into communities without social license; what the hell did they think would be the outcome?
You can't say it too loudly but we know that you have huge cause to consider this government in the same way we do; your numbers cut (20,000 less officers now than in 2010), your pension age raised and standards undeniably lowered due to cost cutting. Privatisation is nibbling away at your force in a stealth-like fashion similar to what is happening in education and the NHS …outsourcing forensics, prisoner processing and other departments and considering giving rights to arrest to private security firms. You are not treated with respect… and nor are we.
The UK is supposed to be a democracy and one of the better-off countries in the world and yet, our successful rejection of fracking through our Council was overturned and you have seen cuts you can't fight against yet have to manage the fall-out from. So where we each stand and what we each suffer in our daily work (yes, I am working – my job is to protect my young as my first priority) is caused by the same people – who then set us against each other in an unwinnable scenario that is destined to bring serious harm.
I have witnessed tired officers grow angry and act dangerously…of course we get tired too and tempers fray and we make you more angered and aggressive by taking our frustration and anger out on you too. Meanwhile back in Westminster… lobbyists for the fracking industry and lobbyists for companies like SERCO and G4S, have the ear and favour of senior politicians. You and we go unheard and unheeded.
When Theresa May finally leaves Downing Street, we will see more clearly which industries she got close to as we have with former Prime Minister Cameron this week; he spoke at a large Oil and Gas industry event in America…they like him and he is well rewarded for his work with them. It's clear that he made these connections during his time in power and easy enough to work out what contracts, laws and actions led to the positive relationship.
Yesterday an Officer used what I assume is usual force in getting someone out of the way in an incident…the only thing is, the person thrown wasn't a dangerous criminal, drunk aggressor or violent thug – it was a small woman and she flew further than the Officer judged. Cath landed in the path of an oncoming vehicle that swerved instantly and only missed causing serious harm or death by a moment.
Today, a respected elder witnessed more rough handling by the police and broke down. She was genuinely shocked and said in a tone of absolute disbelief 'I hate the police!'. She is a warm, kind and gentle woman who like so many of us – never imagined life could look this ugly. We paid taxes, voted, believed we lived in a fair country and that if danger came…there were safeguards in place to call upon and before the reality kicks in along with the sadness and anger, we break with the realisation of truth. The government is responsible for this and you, like us are bearing the pain.
A community's police force is there for public safety and we are unsafe every day because of a dangerous industry – yet you are tasked with protecting that industry's metal trucks and equipment…from soft-fleshed people – many of whom are women over the age of 50 for goodness sakes.
What is right, lawful, just or fair about this picture?
We are nearly too far down this path to repair and something serious must happen to change this situation because your force and our residents are at breaking point and that's with just one frack site…they want hundreds. Government and industry will aim to injunct everything they can but we'll just nudge up next to the edge of every injunction or we'll go to the places the equipment sets off from and we will not stop because we can't.
What would it take for you to move out of the way of a child and let danger come to them? That's what drives us and keeps us in this truly awful situation…we can't go till the frackers do.
The solution? No bloody idea – but I suggest it starts with a conversation within the police force and that there needs to be a forcing of the government to see the truth of the danger that is growing on the streets that surround a fracking site in Lancashire.
Tina Rothery (Nana)