Break the chain fortnight against fracking
The national social and climate justice group Reclaim the Power have announced plans to put pressure companies in the fracking ‘supply chain’ during a fortnight of direct action called ‘Break the Chain’ and will be running until 10 April.
And anti-fracking activists from Bristol swung into action in Lancashire, launching the fortnight on 27 March with a blockade of the Preston New Road fracking-site suppliers Aggregate Industries.
Lorry access to the company’s quarry in Carnforth was entirely suspended by two protesters on swings rigged onto the height restriction bars at two key access points and blocked all lorry movements.
After 11 hours – and closing the quarry for a full day – the two swing-blockaders were arrested.
Aggregate Industries is one of several companies supplying the controversial fracking site at Preston New Road currently under construction just outside Blackpool.
Protests by locals have also been taking place every day, slowing and often halting Cuadrilla’s work to prepare the site for drilling.
At least five companies are believed to have pulled out of further work at the site as a result of rising protests against their involvement.
Tina Rothery, anti-fracking campaigning ‘Nana‘ from Lancashire, said: “The people who stand at the roadside every day in Lancashire couldn’t be more grateful for groups like Reclaim the Power and the actions they have planned.
“They continue to provide support for us, to spread our message and bring us hope.”
The activists at the quarry in Carnforth were part of Bristol Rising Tide, the group who occupied the first fracking rig for 11 hours in December 2011.
That rig was responsible for the only test frack to be carried out in the UK to date, and resulted in an earthquake which caused a temporary moratorium to be placed on the technology.
The south west is currently facing a new round of licensing threats, including one at Weston Super Mare, just up the road from Bristol. Bristol activists also plan to demonstrate outside a branch of fracking funder Barclays later in the week.
“Fracking is currently threatening Bristol and we won’t be able to defeat it alone, but we also know we won’t have to,” anti-fracker campaigner Sam Faulkner said.
“The people of the Fylde and Bolton have shown the way. Solidarity is growing as fast as the industry’s expansion plans.
“Which is fortunate, because it’s going to take all of our care and creative plotting to stop this. Day after day, all over the country, we need to get in the way. Get your friends together and get in.”
And in another action, on 29 March, a group of anti-frackers from Reclaim the Power occupied Centrica’s head office and threw a party for CEO, Iain Conn, congratulating him on his controversial £1.4 million ‘fracker’s bonus’.
One of the activists, dressed as a Cuadrilla executive, gave the following speech:
“We’re here at Centrica’s offices to say congratulations to Iain on his well-deserved £1.4 million fracker’s bonus. Without his company bankrolling fracking in Lancashire, the industry would be dead in the water.
“Fracking may be devastating to local communities and have no public backing, but kudos to Iain for sticking with it through the tough times.
“Going forward, we hope Centrica continues to profit from Lancashire’s sacrifices, and that you can use your millions to shield yourself from climate catastrophe.”
Centrica – who own British Gas – have also been criticised for the size of Conn’s pay boost in light of the millions of UK families living in fuel poverty; £1.4 million would be enough to pay the energy bills of nearly 4000 of their customers.
Reclaim the Power is a UK-based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice and has been working to oppose fracking since organising mass action at Balcombe in 2013.
Since then, Reclaim the Power have hosted anti-fracking action camps in Blackpool and Didcot, and taken countless actions against the industry.