On Saturday October 8th 2016, people from across the UK travelled to Lancashire to support fellow ‘frack free’ campaigners, after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid gave the go-ahead for fracking for shale gas at the Preston New Road site in the Fylde near Blackpool. Planning permission for the site had previously been refused by Lancashire County Council but the decision made on 6th October by the Communities Secretary overturned this in favour of the drilling company, Cuadrilla.
Many people were interviewed by local and national media on the day, at the Lancashire site where up to 400 had gathered in scenes similar to those in Upton in January 2016 following the eviction of Upton Community Protection Camp . Many expressed their opinion that democracy had died or had not been upheld.
A county councillor from Cheshire, who had travelled for the day to support his local consituents who were also present, commented that “The decision in Lancashire is a complete contradiction of the tories own policy of localism, and is an absolute affront to local democracy. The planning application had been rejected by the county council, and the local community simply haven’t been listened to. People in Chester and in Upton in particular have expressed to me how this has given them little reason to trust in our political system when decisions made through the democratic process simply get reversed by the tory government if they don’t agree with them
Another frack free campaigner Helen Pugh who also travelled to Lancashire said “Democracy died this week, What we have seen here is that the parish councils said No, the district council said No, and the County Council said No, yet somebody in London said Yes and none of the local views seem to matter. Its a complete joke expecting us to have any faith in the ability of the people who want us to vote for them”. “My heart goes out to the people here in Lancashire who have been slapped in the face with this decision”
Mike, who described himself as previously a conservative voter, added that “The UK government has committed to ratify the COP21 agreement by the end of the year, Theresa May has said that she regards climate change as a major threat to global stability and prosperity, yet this decision has in effect just launched a brand new home-grown fossil fuel industry. The two are completely at odds with each other”
Speaking from Chester, local campaigner Brenda Southward summed the situation up: ” It beggars belief really , this Government just do as they please and don’t take anyone’s concerns into consideration.”
Tensions rose as the crowd marched first up to the drill site, and then to the house of the farmer who leased the land, it beggars belief that someone would have this industry situated so close to their own home.
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