A former climate diplomat told anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire they were close to winning their battle against shale gas.
Speaking outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool on the 454th day of protests, John Ashton said:
“You have kept this flame burning so that when this issue is decided it can only be decided in one way.”
Mr Ashton, formerly the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change at the Foreign Office, told the crowd that had gathered despite near-zero temperatures:
“We have almost won this struggle. We are so close now. But to win this struggle in the country, we have to win it here first. People up and down the country are with you.
“People will come here and remember that this is where the tide was turned.”
Describing the campaigners as “the real heroes”, Mr Ashton said:
“We’re not here to defend a field. We’re here to defend our country because what happens in that field over the next few months is going to be important for our country, important for our lives and the lives or our children.
“Do we want a country where the choices that are made are choices that are made with us or choices that are inflicted upon us? That’s what this whole moment in our history is about.
“The struggle over fracking is the struggle over whether we do politics with us or politics that gets done to us.”
Mr Ashton criticised the shale gas industry for promoting itself as a solution to climate change.
“They said ‘We can be in favour of fixing the climate and we can be in favour of fracking’.
“For six years, I was Her Majesty’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.
“The one thing I do know something about is climate change. Take it from me: you can be in favour of fracking or you can be in favour of climate change but you certainly can’t be in favour of doing both at the same time.”
“Front line of climate struggle”
The rally also heard from Jamie Peters, a campaigner with Friends of the Earth. He said:
“One of the most important things you can do for climate change is stopping the fracking industry.”
He said people facing shale gas applications elsewhere in the England were drawing inspiration from Lancashire.
“What you’re doing is making a difference.
“You’re eating into their profit margin, you’re slowing down their work
“That’s what really terrifies the industry. You were not part of the plan for the fracking industry.”
Mr Peters said the shale gas industry was “falling apart politically”. It had, he said, admitted it was not getting a social licence.
“They know they’re not going to get the support that they need for this.
“They know there’s going to be an uprising like this. There’s going to be a Preston New Road everywhere they go.
“You are the front line of the fracking struggle but also the front line of climate change struggle.”