About Us
Back Issues
The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action


On Tuesday three people from Liverpool and Brighton were found guilty of 'disrupting lawful activity' for occupying Cuadrilla Resource's drilling rig in Lancashire for eleven hours last November. See SchNEWS 795

The trial which lasted for four days saw prosecution witnesses from Cuadrilla, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Lancashire County Council, cross examined on the legality of Cuadrilla's earthquake production operations in Lancashire. Evidence from a number of expert witnesses from the US and UK was presented to demonstrate the massive threat posed to the global climate, local communities and human health by the expansion of fracking for shale gas around the world. Despite admitting that the defence had painted "a picture of an Armageddon that no-one would wish to contemplate" the District Judge sentenced the three defendants to 2 year conditional discharges and £750 costs each.

Initially the DJ was considering curfews and restraining orders to keep the defendants away from Cuadrilla sites. Two of the defendants were also convicted on a spurious charge of common assault stemming from one of them being pushed over a steel beam and pinned by a security guard in the early stages of the action.

The DJ however seemed to consider the £20,000 that Cuadrilla claim to have lost as a result of that action the major concern and didn't tack on any extra sentence as a result of the assault charges. Since the embarassing earthquake incident at their first site in Lancashire Cuadrilla have drilled 2 further wells but have been holding off fracking while they work with the government to solve their PR problem. It seems likely that they will attempt to start drilling at a fourth site in Lancashire soon and may begin fracking there second well within the next couple of months. Their eventual plan is to frack 400-800 wells in Lancashire alone.  


Despite the self-righteous air of the judgement, the trial showed up the fact that in some ways fracking in the UK is even more of a wild west activity than in the US. The back to back testimony from DECC and local council bureaucrats demonstrated a staggering level of buck passing with no one willing to take responsibility for regulating the industry. In the US the notorious 'Halliburton Loophole' passed in 2005 exempted the industry from the majority of environmental laws. In the UK, rather than change the law to fit in with this new technology, the government seems to have adopted the strategy of studiously ignoring any issues that this new practice raises. Given the poor repulation of fracking it is perhaps not surprising that they are not particularly keen to expose the issue to the sort of public debate. The general PR strategy appears to be obstinately deny that fracking is fundamentally different from traditional extraction methods.

Fracking for shale gas is part of a tidalwave of much more extreme methods of energy extraction that are threatening to become widespread as a result of the increasing scarcity and rising prices of fossil fuels. Over 25,000 shale gas wells have been drilled in the US during the last decade, particularly in western states such as Texas. More recently as these practices have moved into higher population density states such as Pennsylvania it has resulted in a backlash as much larger numbers of people have been affected. In the UK, in addition to shale gas, coal bed methane (natural gas extracted from coal seams) and the even more insane underground coal gasification (setting fire to coal seams and piping the resulting gases to the surface) are also serious threats. All these methods involve much more effort and environmental destruction than conventional fossil fuels. Since we cannot afford to burn half the remaining conventional fossils fuels and avoid catastrophic climate change exploitation of these unconventional fuels is suicidal.

For more on the fight against extreme energy abuse www.frack-off.org.uk


Stories about similar subjects...

Derail the first and the worst of the new road schemes for the UK.

Anti-nuclear protesters fined for obstructing the highway outside Hinkley Nuclear power plant.

Environmental activist is released after seven years imprisonment.

Anti-road protestors in Bexhill were ambushed by an early start to the tree-felling on the controversial Bexhill-Hastings link road this week, but they rallied and using direct action have put a spanner in the works.

Restart of fracking after year and half delay set to amp up resistance

Activists gather outside UN talks at Doha, Qatar as negotiators pretend to debate climate change.

Anti-Nuclear activists blockade UK plants to protest the extent of destruction upcoming expansion will cause.

UPDATE: The sh*t's well and truly hit the fan since we published this interview last week... Stay tuned for more SchNEWS from the front...

Twitter: @SchNEWS