The anti-fracking network, Reclaim the Power, is focusing its opposition next week on companies that finance shale gas exploration.
The network said it would be targeting protests on Centrica, which has interests in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking operations, and HSBC, which has a stake in IGas.
Public demonstrations were planned at Centrica’s headquarters in Windsor, and outside branches of HSBC in Cambridge and Leeds, Reclaim the Power said. Other groups were organising unannounced actions, it added.
Centrica became a 25% partner in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire exploration licence in 2013. Centrica agreed to pay £40m in cash and £60m towards exploration costs in the licence area.
The Times reported that the £60m had been spent by September 2018, before fracking began at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
DrillOrDrop reported late last year that HSBC had increased its voting rights in IGas to just over 11%. This was the latest in a series of increases during 2018 in the stake held by the bank. In less than six months, it increased its share of voting rights in IGas from 5.69% to 11.06%.
Reclaim the Power said in a statement:
“There has been sustained nationwide opposition to fracking and recent earthquakes have led to repeated suspension of operations at the industry’s flagship site at Preston New Road.
“Under pressure from campaigners, the government has refused to relax regulations around seismicity and financiers like HSBC, Centrica and their subsidiary British Gas, are under increasing pressure to drop their support for the industry.”
Reclaim the Power said the two-day action, on 22 and 23 February 2019, was also targeting new plans for gas-fired power stations. Jo Randall, for the group, said:
“For six years, alongside many others, we have successfully fought fracking companies, like Cuadrilla, who are polluting local communities and ignoring the force of democratic opinion against them.
“At the same time, anyone with eyes can see that the UK does not need the fleet of new gas plants being built by big energy companies like SSE; these will lock us into fossil fuel dependency and climate breakdown, whilst giving us energy bills we can’t afford.”
Robert Noyes, of Fuel Poverty Action Group which is supporting the campaign, added:
“Last year, while British Gas upped their prices by 5.5%, their owners Centrica pumped $16Mn into fracking operations. It is clear – fracking will not bring down the bills. We urgently need clean, affordable and publicly-owned energy in warm, well-insulated homes, an immediate end to fracking, and a just transition away from fossil gas that puts workers in polluting industries at the centre of the conversation.”