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Guest post by Eilidh Robb: The anti-fracking movement is not just about fracking

180628 Block around the clock8 RCTP

Block Around the Clock outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 28/6/2018. Photo: Reclaim the Power


Eilidh Robb, communications coordinator of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, describes in this guest post how she discovered that defence of democracy is at the heart of the anti-fracking campaign.

Fracking didn’t excite me. It wasn’t why I became passionate about protecting the environment. It wasn’t something I felt confident discussing, and it certainly wasn’t something capable of convincing me to travel 195 miles from Glasgow to Blackpool to campaign against.

And yet, at the end of June, I spent three amazing days at Preston New Road where I discovered a rhetoric that is often missing from the anti-fracking movement.

Preston New Road, in the heart of Lancashire, plays host to what Cuadrilla plans will be the UK’s first horizontal fracked shale gas well.

The local community #SaidNo, the local government #SaidNo, and in the end, the Conservative government said we’re doing it anyway! Since then the local community have demonstrated admirable perseverance; manning the entrance to the fracking site day and night.


On June 27th, members of the UK Climate Coalition (UKYCC) headed down to Preston New Road to support and witness the work being carried out first hand. Our visit coincided with Reclaim the Power’s organised #BlockAroundTheClock, marking the end of the three months of rolling #UnitedResistance against fracking.


Members of UK Youth Climate Coalition at Preston New Road. Photo: Eilidh Robb

Given the government’s recent announcements on proposed changes to the planning regime for onshore oil and gas, it was clear that this resistance was more important than ever.

My time at both Maple Farm camp (my home for the trip) and the site entrance (the heart of the resistance) left my brain stuffed full.

I learnt about the wider importance of fracking resistance for the rest of the UK; the continued local struggles and the impact that fracking would have on their daily lives, identities, and house prices. I learnt about the ins and outs of the fracking process, and the connections it may or may not have to nuclear waste. And I saw how much energy, love and support was being poured into the anti-fracking movement.

Hearing first-hand about this anti-fracking battle was of course inspiring, but if I’m being honest, I had heard it all before.

UKYCC have been following the gas movement closely, and with the launch of our own #CleanGasKissMyAss campaign it has been nearly impossible for me to avoid discussion of fracking. Therefore, I already knew about the situation at Preston New Road, the inspiring activism, and the difficult details of fracking.

What then (I hear you ask), was this new rhetoric?

Well, quite simply put, it was this: The #UnitedResistance at Preston New Road, is not about fracking. It is about protecting democracy, demonstrating people power, and standing up to the government’s attempts to destroy our environment.

And THAT was something I could get behind.

PNR Roadside sign

Outside Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road. Photo: Eilidh Robb

The details of fracking are deliberately complex. They aren’t easy to understand, they aren’t particularly interesting and they contribute to a narrative of: “that doesn’t affect me”.

Similarly, anti-fracking isn’t being picked up by the press in the same way that plastic is. There are no obvious individual steps to take to combat it, and, if you live in Scotland like me, it might not even be legal in your country.

So why does it matter?

Because this campaign sets a precedent for all future attempts by government to go over our heads and “do it anyway”. The resilience and persistence of the anti-fracking movement sends a clear message to the government that our democracy shall be valued, and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it so.

Direct action resistance doesn’t have to be about breaching the peace. In my experience, it was about a large group of passionate, inspiring and motivated individuals coming together to protect something bigger than themselves. It was about dancing on the side of the road, watching documentaries, sharing stories, and spreading love.

I can’t claim that I now enjoy discussing the fine details of fracking – who am I kidding? BUT…

A protest that supports our democracy, our environment, and sends a message to the government that #WeShallNotBeMoved, coupled with laughter, love and infectious energy… now THAT is exciting!!

If like me, fracking didn’t initially get you jumping out of your seat, I hope this reflection on my time at PNR might change your mind. If it didn’t, well… I’ll try harder next time!

  • Elidh Robb is also a member of the UKYCC Gas and COP Working Groups. She is an environmental law student living in Glasgow and says she is obsessed with climate justice and the power of young people.

This opinion piece is an edited version of a post which originally appeared on the UK Youth Climate Coalition blog

39 replies »

  1. Of course it’s not just about “fracking”. It’s about anti establishment, anti business and industry, anti capitalist, anti pretty much anything. Give me everything for free, it is my right etc etc. Good old social media.

    “UK Youth Climate Coalition” – wow! Corbyn will love it. I bet the establishment is getting really worried. Good candidates for injunctions – let there be protests….

    Meanwhile in the real world another “brilliant” green idea bites the dust, at great expense to those of us who pay taxes no doubt:

    • Come on Paul, that is absolute rubbish. Its about pro freedom to self determination to make the choice, and not have the law pulled out from underneath anyone who has a Democratic and Human Right to object to it and say so.

      Many public enquiries have been held at council planning committees about the right to stand up and object and point out flaws and inadequacies about the operations and private invasion of fracking and its associated avoidances of the word, and they have been overturned by central government and regulators who totally ignore all the inadequacies and the failings of the operations themselves, the logistics, the health and pollution and the long term damage to the global climate.

      Do you really expect people just to roll over and play dead like the rubber stamp regulators?

      Of course not. People protest and as long as the industry and this government deliberately overturn legally arrived at refusals, the objections are going to get stronger and stronger, don’t blame us, we never did ask for any of this, but we are damn well not going to roll over and play dead just because the government sanctions private offshore tax haven parent companies and allows them to run rough shod over our Democratic and Human Rights that they are “supposed” to be there to preserve, and are clearly not, but doing the exact opposite.

      it is not about that silly list you give of “anti establishment, anti business and industry, anti capitalist, anti pretty much anything” that is simply not true, please show where anyone has said that at all. it is about preserving law, preserving peace, preserving democracy, preserving industry such as renewable energy sources, its about preserving capitalism in its most beneficial state and its about preserving “pretty much anything” that is beneficial and worth the future children to inherit. what it is not about is preserving self serving greed and avarice that cannot exist without destroying democracy, its not about preserving establishment and capitalism and industry that is so corrupt and compromised that it assists in the very processes to overturn democracy to advantage a few exploiters, and it is most definitely not about being “anti anything” and that is just simply absolute rubbish and has never been said anywhere.

      Its about preserving Democracy and Human Rights in this country, not about any of those antis you mention apart from the proven dangerous operation of fracking and its associated avoidances of the word, and you know it, they are just the same old same old propaganda labels to throw around without any substantiation whatsoever..

      It is the oil and gas industry backed up by government that is anti all those things and has come down far too regularly against human rights of free speech, and protest and has attempted via injunctions to overturn democracy itself.

      And that beats any other consideration because that is intended to destroy the right to object against anything.

      Anything at all, including your rights.

      [Edited by moderator]

      • Appeals and the associated public inquiries are a part of the planning process. They are not “held at council planning committees”. They are an important part of the planning process. I assume you have never participated in one or had Rule 6 status? They are normally determined by a Planning Inspector, in exceptional circumstances the Secretary of State takes the final decision (large or contentious applications). Please find below a link so that you can take part in the next one:

        Click to access taking-part_planning-inquiry_April_2016.pdf

        “have been overturned by central government and regulators who totally ignore all the inadequacies and the failings of the operations themselves, the logistics, the health and pollution and the long term damage to the global climate.”

        Actually these applications / appeals have been determined within the planning system, by listening to experts in their fields not scaremongers, Enemies of Industryand NIMBYs (don’t worry I am also in the “NIMBY category” when it comes to where I live – happy to admit it).

        “but we are damn well not going to roll over and play dead just because the government sanctions private offshore tax haven parent companies”

        Well you are going to find it very difficult to buy anything, search on line, do business with any company, banking, insurance, travel if you are boycotting any business that is owned abroad. This is not something that the oil and gas business dreamed up.

        Of course it’s not just about “fracking”. It’s about anti establishment, anti business and industry, anti capitalist, anti pretty much anything. Give me everything for free, it is my right etc etc. Good old social media. I should have added – with the exception of NIMBYs – myself included.

        • What absolute rubbish Paul. Just repeating the same old insults wont get you anywhere.

          But well, two can play at that game:

          it is not about that silly list you give of “anti establishment, anti business and industry, anti capitalist,and that still silly phrase “enemies of industry and NIMBYs”, (what rubbish) anti pretty much anything”

          That is simply not true and never will be no matter how many times you repeat it.

          Please show where anyone has said that at all.

          [Edited by moderator]

          And oh yes, getting back to the previous subject, anyone who uses fossil fuels in any way whatsoever to oppose this poisonous fracking industry is of course absolutely free to do so and always has been and always will be, and has my blessing and all those who oppose this poisonous fact i cant think of a better use for fossil fuels than to oppose its anti democratic overturning of this country and that has a sort of irony that is inescapable.

          in fact another thing occurs to me, the operators who are trying yo prevent demonstrators opposing their little anti democratic game are NIMBY’s arent they Not In My Back Yard.

          Now that really is ironic.

          • Phil C – please go along to the next appeal / public inquiry and see for yourself how the process works. You may be surprised at how professional they are. You don’t like the planning system – then do something about it. To find out what you don’t like you really need to get involved in the process. It is actually quite interesting but very time consuming to actually participate in an appeal process.

            We are on this BB to wind each other up (and in my case I used to try and pass on my direct industry operations experience but it is a waste of time). It is often amusing, frustrating some of the time. Writing on this BB will not change anything. Despite what the opinion polls say, Martin is right, most of the population of the UK do not give a monkeys about Cuadrilla testing some wells at PNR or INEOS shooting seismic in Notts or Igas drilling a well on an old missile base. What they care about is their standard of living, their SUV and cheap fuel to put in it, cheap beer and wine and holidays in Spain etc. I enjoy some of your posts but I have to admit, I don’t read the long ones, particularly the poetry. Perhaps you should ignore mine?

            And this guest post? Come on, even you can see it for what it is…..

            • Dear me, you guys do like to stand on your laurels as if you are so aloof and superior don’t you, but its all an act, like you admit here, on the surface, its just a wind up as far as you are concerned.

              However, lets examine that a moment shall we?

              It is clear that you know that words are far more important than most are given to believe, and i know you know that and use it. You do so here.

              Words are powerful things, i suspect you know that perfectly well and that “the word is more powerful than the sword”. Move the “s” in “words” to the beginning and you get the word “swords”. That is subliminal word magic. Spells are just what they say they are, the use of words to make a spell to influence others.

              That is the real game being played here, but its forbidden knowledge isn’t it?

              I notice you and others use that all the time, so you know that perfectly well too. Did you think i didn’t know that?

              So, far from your statement “Writing on this BB will not change anything.” all that goes to prove is that you know that is not true, and so you try to defuse that by saying the opposite, that is pure word spell magic and clear to anyone who knows the truth.

              What you say is quite deliberately wrong, you and i know that, otherwise we would not spend so much time here bandying words about if it were just a meaningless “wind up”?.

              Don’t read? Ha! Ha! Oh deary me! Martin tried to say the same thing, but he perjured himself time and time again by admitting he does.

              This is a far more important “Game Of Stones” than you will admit Paul, people really do care and do give a damn, and that is dangerous isnt it?

              Everything we say here goes much deeper than you clearly want to admit, but you would rather try to close that danger down by these word spells, and words are far from unimportant, in fact they are everything, which is why you are so desperate to say the opposite, you know it and i know it, so dont try to kid a kidder, or wind up a winder upper if you prefer.

              The rest that you say here is pure word spell attempting to put the flat cat fat cat frack hat back in the bag and you and i know that, and i dont believe a “word” of what you say regarding the rest…..

              I enjoy reading your posts too Paul, but i just laugh when you attempt to defuse a situation by using silly word and labels that are clearly not true and trying to change the subject away from something which has pits and traps in it.

              We both know you are better than that.

              Sorry about that, but truth is better than obfuscation any day of the week. I am sure you will deny all this, but dont try too hard, methinks thou dost protest……too much!

  2. Borings finished, for the moment. Now for the fracking. Keep up.

    Heavens knows how much fossil fuel will be utilised to motor from all parts to observe the event, and claim their depression followed as a result. Need to get Blackpool to arrange it prior to the illuminations otherwise the local accommodation will not be able to cope.

  3. Martin did nothing of the sort PhilC. I know you have difficulty with the factual stuff but Martin clearly stated a number of times he rarely read your “contributions” but occasionally his good sense weakened and he did so, only to find, again, why his good sense should have been observed.

    As a teacher, you should be more inclined to use your eyes and ears, rather than your mouth and fingers. Once you recognise communication is a two way exercise you will reap the rewards. (Thought a lesson, being Sunday, might be in order in place of a poem.)


  4. [Edited by moderator]

    How did you do the 360 mile trip On your bike .Home grown Oil and petrol .One thinks

  5. Eilidh Robb claims that anti-fracking protests are “about dancing on the side of the road, watching documentaries, sharing stories, and spreading love”. If only.
    The hard fact is that protests in almost every case involve road blocking, “slow walking” trespass, etc. In a word one group hindering or preventing another group in carrying out a legal activity.
    We all have causes we feel strongly about but do you really want a situation in which activities are permitted or banned by whoever can command the more vicious mob? When advocating rule by mob remember in may not always be your mob with the upper hand! Please consider;
    *At a time of constrained budgets, the huge cost of policing protests. Sporting & musical events have to pay towards policing. Protesters are free loading on the public purse, akin to tax evaders & benefit fraudsters.
    * Anti-fracking protests even if they succeed in banishing fracking in UK will make not one jot of difference to global emissions. Trump may sell a bit more gas. The only other beneficiaries will be selfish nimbys who (in almost every case mistakenly) worry about their property values.
    Can you not find more worthy candidates for your obvious idealism?
    Sorry to be a kill joy. I know protesting is fun but there are other ways to have fun. Try dancing on hill tops. Better than roadsides for you & your fellow citizens!

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