Walking the lanes and tracks of my local countryside, there was one particular nondescript shrub that seemed to always catch my attention, but growing, as it was, on the side of the road and with little about it to give me a clue as to its identity, I would just greet it and carry on my way, keeping it at the back of my mind as something to explore when the time was right.
This area of the country is heavily under threat from the fracking industry. Not too far away are several sites where fracking company IGas have undertaken exploratory drilling – with inherited planning permission to sample the underlying coal bed for coalbed methane, they just kept on drilling deeper and sampled the shale hundreds of metres deeper still, building up their data and portfolio for their shale-fracking plans without bothering to get specific permission to do so.
Why complain? The deed is done, and only found out long after the event. This is when we also found out that there is no specific punishment for drilling too far down and sampling a completely different rock layer, paving a way for a different kind of industry than they had permission for. Planning applications cover the above ground works, there is little or no local planning jurisdiction for what goes on unseen below our feet, deep in the earth.
This has been the case at several sites in Cheshire. At first when us mere locals started raising awareness and asking questions , we would have this rebuff thrown back in our faces “its only exploratory drilling, its not even fracking, its coalbed methane” used to rubbish our arguments and belittle our knowledge. Slowly the company portfolio built up. their business info never referred to coalbed methane, it was always shale, FRACK FRACK FRACK and gradually the cries of “..it’s only…..” got less and less.
Several miles away, for almost two years, stood Upton Community Protection Camp that occupied the site of one of these spots where the company wanted to drill, only to explore, only to sample the coal, but we all knew what the agenda was as the smaller companies got bought up by gradually bigger and bigger ones, while the camp stopped them getting onto the site, the inherited planning permission for “its only…” was handed on and on through take-overs, to companies who had no interest in coalbed methane, only the shale, but what the planning permission gave them, was permission to get onto the land and break the earth with a drill.
In September 2015, the fracking company IGas took over the lease of the land that the camp was on, for the tune of £60,000. Money talks, and who are we to get in the way of progress? Nobody knew until October 2015 when one of the long term campers from the site returned from taking her children to school, to find members of a private security firm – ex marines no less – trying to force entry into her home to post up notices, bang them into the ground, to inform everyone that the leaseholder had changed and the camp was not welcome. “Its only a notice…..”
She raised the alarm and woke the others up, and in the chaos that ensued, people did their best to deny access onto the camp, in an almost comical (if the consequences weren’t so serious) event captured here on film, one of the security firm claimed he was assaulted, at the end of the incident, three of the camp members had been arrested for assault and the notices posted.
I was in the court for their hearing, at Wirral Magistrates Court. I heard and watched the evidence presented, all three were found ‘not guilty’ of any wrongdoing. All they had done was forcefully, and peacefully tried to defend their homes from intruders. There was no violence, no punches thrown or kicks aimed, simply putting their bodies on the line to protect their home, and by extension our homes from the violation of this industry.
“The camp had been in existence for well over a year at this point, and evidence was given that there had previously been NO incidents at the camp, it was well established with a peaceful and family atmosphere, and had maintained good relations with both local police and local residents and had much support from the surrounding community.”
A fuller account of the details can be found at http://www.frackfreedee.co.uk/three-more-not-guilty-verdicts-from-upton-camp-trials/
This follows the trend from the trials from the resulting eviction of the camp in January 2016, where the majority of cases brought to the court were dismissed, and those who were found guilty of obstructing a bailiff found themselves commended by the judge for their conduct and behaviour after being quizzed and found to have genuine and deeply held beliefs that they were acting for the greater good, and they had not set out to cause violence, or any more trouble than resisting.
So here I am, once again, walking the lanes and tracks near my home, the familiar shrub still there, but changed, it is no longer summer, and my walk now takes place at sunset, its been a while since I have been here and I turn into a different lane than usual, and am stuck by scores of individuals of this species of shrub, seemingly ablaze with fire, deep reds and oranges, crimsons, both leaves and berries matching the fire in the sky from the setting sun behind them. Now they are anything but ‘non-descript’
Screamingly alive and shouting their message to me, if only I can hear them… LISTEN…. At least now I have something to go on, I can identify them.
Spindle. That is their name. Spindle.
And when I found their name, of course, I googled, and I found this article on the website for The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids
Spiritual & Psychic Qualities –
Meaning- Finish obligations and tasks or your life cannot move forward.
• Physical: Fulfil your obligations, not for reward but because you must, honour demands it and the greatest happiness will be yours.
• Mental: Sudden realization gives you the right and obligation to question authority.
• Spiritual: Develop your consciousness of the right relationship with others in the community and tribe.
Surely, if there was a tree that would symbolise our work as pagans answering The Warrior’s Call, or indeed, to symbolise the frack free movement in general, this is it.
In addition to this, as an update I would also like to add the story of Tina Louise Rothery who was taken to court today (09 Dec 2016) by Cuadrilla for more than £55,000 in legal costs. Appearing at Blackpool district registry in June, she refused on principle to provide evidence of her financial means in order to avoid paying the fees and was held in contempt of court.
Today, a judge at Preston Combined Court discharged a ruling that she was in contempt of court and said she would not be sent to jail.