Balcombe and Beyond: The UK’s Frack Free Movement

Over the last couple of years the anti-fracking movement in the UK has become a force to be reckoned with – and a sign of its growing maturity is the written resources it already has at its disposal.

Numerous campaigners with excellent researching skills have surfaced, with Ruth Hayhurst’s Drill or Drop website, for instance, an outstanding source of news and information.

Martin Dale’s 2015 book Balcombe and Beyond: UK’s Frack Free Movement plays a similarly important role.

It is an account both of the fracking industry and of the movement that has sprung up, almost overnight it seems, to resist the threat.

balcombeandbeyond

Endorsed with a foreword by actors James Bolam and Sue Jameson, it is written, I think, in just the right way to be able to make new converts to the frack free rebellion. There are plenty of hard detailed facts to convince sceptics, but not at the expense of an overview of the broader context.

The book contains some particularly useful rebuttals of the myths rolled out by the industry, via an obliging corporate media, to justify its ecocidal activities. For instance, we are often told that there is in fact nothing new about fracking and it has been around for decades.

Dale responds: “Artificially stimulating wells is an old technology, but high-pressure high-volume slack water hydraulic fracturing has only been in use for around ten years. The Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, confirm that only one well has been ‘fracked’ in the UK – Preese Hall near Blackpool in 2011”.

He also easily deflates the industry’s insistence that “the amount of water used in fracking is considerably less than used in agriculture and even by golf courses annually” by pointing out: “The water used in agriculture and golf courses is able to return to the natural water cycle and so is not wasted or removed. Fracking, however, pollutes the water used to such an extent that it cannot be cleaned or returned to the water cycle”.

frackingwater

Continuing to explore the key subject of water, he adds: “In the USA four states have proven that their water sources have been polluted by fracking. The geology of the UK is much older and more heavily faulted than in the USA, meaning that there are many times more opportunities and likelihood of migrating contaminants and seismic events”.

And he asks, crucially: “If drinking water is safe, why are drilling companies in the USA going to the huge expense of shipping and supplying bottled water free of charge to residences near fracking sites?”

The enormous impact of fracking on the countryside is something deliberately obscured by the industry, which likes to present a picture of one or two inconspicuous nodding donkeys in a largely unchanged landscape.

However, as Dale points out: “Aside from all the other environmental issues, if the UK is to see the same kind of ‘fracking boom’ as in the USA then large tracts of the countryside would have to be given over to well pads and pipelines – approximately one pad every kilometre, each with up to 10 or 12 lateral wells”.

Observers of the fracking industry will have noticed a pattern of denial in the way it tries to push its projects through with the minimum of local opposition. It is prepared to swear until it is blue in the face that is not going to frack, and then suddenly, at the last minute, announce that, actually, it is going to do so after all. Is this what is going to happen, for instance, at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex?

The Broadford Bridge drill site in West Sussex
The Broadford Bridge drill site in West Sussex

Dale charts this oft-repeated scenario as it unfolded a couple of years ago in Lancashire: “On 11th January 2013, less than two months after ruling out hydraulic fracturing, Cuadrilla submitted a Scoping Opinion to Lancashire County Council to accompany an application for ‘the testing and hydraulic fracturing of exploratory lateral borehole’ at the Annas Road site. Confusingly, the aforementioned application, validated just five days later, expressly ruled out any fracturing at the site, instead wishing to take a core sample of the shale rock along a lateral borehole”.

The UK authorities have also often tried to reassure the public that fracking will be perfectly safe here, because of all the lovely regulations we have in place.

But the book reveals that behind the scenes the government has in fact been trying to prevent regulations from getting in the way of the fracking industry’s profits!

David Cameron getting behind the fracking industry
David Cameron getting behind the fracking industry

Dale writes: “Leaked documents from the European Commission in January 2014 identified Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK Government as the chief opposition to new environmental legislation on fracking operations, stating in a letter to the EC President: ‘It is essential the EU minimise the regulatory burdens and costs on industry… by not creating uncertainty or introducing new legislation. The industry in the UK had told us that new EU legislation would delay imminent investment”.

Dale reveals that the only “regulation” the UK has in mind is one conducted by the industry itself! “UK pro-shale advocates cite that there are ‘Gold Standard Regulations’ that make the process of fracking safe for the UK. However, it has been found through Freedom of Information requests that neither the Environment Agency nor the Health and Safety Executive conduct independent inspections of any oil or gas well sites, but instead rely on self-regulation by the well operators”.

The author points out early in the book that “the Coalition Government are overtly pro-shale” and as the details of his research confirm time and time that this is indeed the case, so it leads us on to a broader, and more disconcerting, appreciation of the close collaboration between state and business.

On every level, the state exposes itself as a tool in the hands of the fracking industry. Even the road repairs and widening around drill sites are in effect a subsidy for private industry from the public purse.

Anti-fracking protesters target DEFRA over its censored report
Anti-fracking protesters target DEFRA over its censored report

The UK state has also actively prevented the public from hearing the truth about the disastrous impact of fracking if it is allowed to go ahead, even notoriously censoring one of its own reports on the issue! Dale recalls that in August 2014, government department DEFRA released a report “on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities. The report was only 13 pages in length but contained 63 redactions, obscuring almost all of its content. Eight sections had been deleted from the executive summary, four sections on economic impacts, four sections on social impacts, 17 sections on local service impacts and three sections specifically looking at the impact on house prices near drilling sites”.

The state’s reaction to public opposition to fracking – in particular the right to drill under people’s homes without their permission – has also exposed as a complete sham the phoney “consultation” with which it likes to dress up its edicts.

The book tells us: “On the 26th September, the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced the results of the consultation on underground access – some 40,647 responses were made with an astonishing 99% rate of objection to the plans to allow drilling without landowner permission. However, in a press release DECC stated that: ‘We acknowledge the large number of responses against the proposal and the fact that the proposal has provided an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns and raise issues. However the role of the consultation was to see arguments and evidence to consider in developing the proposed policy. Whilst a wide range of arguments were raised and points covered, we did not identify any issues that persuaded us to change the basic form of the proposals”.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, a couple of weeks later a last-minute amendment to what was to become the Infrastructure Act allowed fracking firms to put any substance at all into the ground and leave it there for ever!

Lord Browne
Lord Browne

A whiff of suspicion has surrounded the fracking industry’s links to government ever since it emerged that Balcombe’s MP Francis Maude had appointed Lord Browne, then chairman of fracking firm Cuadrilla, as lead non-executive in the Cabinet Office, advising on energy policy.

A few eyebrows were also raised when it was revealed that the new chairman of the Environment Agency, Sir Philip Dilley, was from 2009 to 2014 chairman of consultancy company Arup Group, the agent for Cuadrilla’s new drilling application for Balcombe in January 2014.

David-Montagu-Smith-Rathlin-Energy-1-v1-200x250
David Montagu-Smith of Rathlin Energy – and the CPRE!

Vested interests have also popped up in less expected quarters, Dale explains, detailing the case of David Montagu-Smith, chairman of fracking firm Rathlin Energy: “Mr Montagu-Smith is also the Chairman of the West Northamptonshire District Committee of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and it has been revealed in the minutes of a meeting of Desborough Town Council held on the 20th February 2014 (at which he gave a presentation on fracking) that he worked on the development of CPRE’s National Fracking Policy Guidance.

The opening line of these guidance notes (published in November 2013) states: ‘Based on the information we have at present, the CPRE does not oppose the exploration of shale gas in principle, provided it meets certain conditions’.”

Police protect the fracking industry from the public
Police protect the fracking industry from the public

Of course, the role of the police in loyally defending the interests of big business against those of the communities they supposedly serve has been a major part of the fracking story. Dale quotes a lawyer who represented some of the Balcombe campaigners as saying of the police: “What they did criminalised protest. They used the Section 14 orders and bail conditions, which were imposed on everyone, and which stopped them from going within miles of the site, to stop them from protesting. It was like an injunction by the back door. If you turn up – new to protest – and then see people being arrested and handcuffed, it is quite shocking and frightening and puts you off being there”.

The police’s interference has at times been so blatant that, reveals Dale, even a Deputy District Judge at Manchester Magistrates Court was moved to say that they had exceeded their powers on several occasions by intervening of behalf of frackers Igas and to accuse the Greater Manchester Police of “acting as civil enforcement officers for the company”.

This is not an issue that is confined to fracking of course – and the permanent role of the state as the enforcer of private interests is something that it is vitally important for us all to understand (as I point out in my new book, Forms of Freedom).

No-TTIP2

Dale finds room in his book for a mention of TTIP, the transatlantic trade treaty which takes the power of corporate interests to a whole new level of visibility – it is almost as if the ruling elite are bored with even pretending that their version of “democracy” has any meaning and are moving on to a new phase of blatantly totalitarian capitalism – “plutofascism”.

He writes: “Of major concern to the anti-fracking movement (and many other non-governmental organisations) is that the TTIP includes a clause that in effect would allow American companies and/or their investors to sue European governments and have policies overturned if they are deemed to have a reducing effect on profitability… The fear regarding fracking is that American companies would be entitled to legally challenge and overturn any European bans on the technology, such as are in place in France, Germany and Spain, or even remove and amend industry regulations and laws if they are seen as hindering the profitability for investors”.

logo

The extent to which the neoliberal agenda involves a complete privatisation of every aspect of our lives, a complete ownership of our communities by the business elite, is nicely illustrated by the way the state has even sold out the education system to the fracking industry.

Dale explains: “Blackpool and The Fylde College is to become a new ‘National College for Onshore Oil and Gas’, with offshoots in Chester, Portsmouth, Redcar and Strathclyde. Responding to this, Blackpool campaigner, Tina Rothery, said: ‘As a mother and local resident, I am fuming. Our bloody children now! Bad enough they buy councillors, lie to and pay off landowners, mislead residents and railroad campaigners, but this is obscene”.

well explosion-r

Dale’s book concludes with a very useful resource – a catalogue of fracking-related incidents in North America between January 2013 and December 2014, including everything from toxic fluids polluting streams and rivers, to explosions, fires and deaths caused by fracking tankers.

One interesting entry for April 2014 records: “A Jury in Dallas, Texas, awards a family nearly $3 million in compensation from Aruba Petroleum Inc after the company’s fracking operations were found to have been responsible for causing years of illness, deaths of pets and livestock and making the property uninhabitable for months at a time”.

A year later, the UK media were feverishly speculating that Sussex and Surrey could become “Britain’s Dallas” because of the scale of claimed oil finds around Horse Hill. Dale’s excellent book should help people to grasp what exactly that would mean!

* There are regular updates on the fracking struggle and the wider degrowth movement in The Acorn, the new info bulletin from Winter Oak Press.

this is an emergency!

Review: Helen Moore, Ecozoa (Hampshire: Permanent Publications, 2015)

O, obscene era

this is an emergency!

(‘Deep Time, Deep Tissue’)

ecozoa

There’s no mistaking the message articulated by Helen Moore in her new collection of eco-poetry.

Already in 2012’s Hedge Fund she was warning of the existential threat to our natural world at the same time as marvelling at its delights.

But three years later, with Ecozoa, there is the impression of a still sharper edge to her vision, perhaps in response to yet more sharply-cut wounds inflicted by the murderous mutilating monster known as industrial civilization.

A landscape devastated by fracking
A landscape devastated by fracking

What has changed over that period? For a start, Moore’s English homelands have been threatened by fracking, a process which is so blatantly unacceptable that it reveals itself and the mindset behind it as an assault not just on our soil, air and water but on all good sense, on any vision of a future place worth living in.

earth is not our wider, life-sustaining body

but a cache of raw matter to be stripped, mined, fracked

(‘apples are not the only gadgets’)

There are poems here reflecting her own participation in (‘This is not a dirty protest!’) and support for the anti-fracking struggle. “And may the frackers’ drills go soft, their stocks & shares evaporate!” she prays in ‘I call on the spirit of Owen’.

Moore is scathing about those who bear responsibility for the destruction of our planetary life-support system, “the kind of chaff that congregates out of sight of the general public – like arms dealers, corporate lobbyists & government ministers”. (‘The Pocket’s Circumference).

iraq-war-shock-and-awe

In ‘Kali Exorcism’, a Ginsberg-inspired piece, she unleashes her moral scorn for those leaders of our society who dare to proclaim their moral high ground from the darkest depths of a stinking corpse-filled pit of hypocrisy.

then show us the hands of our prime minister and his henchmen

in the pockets of BAE Systems, touting for business

with morbid regimes and crackpot dictators,

and their arms fairs, where they never ask what’s fair

in selling arms, just rake in the bloodied money,

as our own banks account to cluster-bomb makers.

Come, dark goddess, tear off veils of rhetoric that conceal

war-mongering deeds in cloaks of respectability: help us

hear deeper than the pre-emptive strikes, the collateral damage

ventriloquised by our complicit media,

and demand plain language to describe victims of torture,

rape and murder in the wars they report.

mountains in wales

At the same time, she sings sublime songs of praise to all that she loves, such as in the beautifully simple poem ‘glory be to Gaia’:

glory be to Gaia,

for birdsong, mountains and clear lakes;

we honour & praise you, Gaia,

giant pulsating orb of life

from which we’ve grown –

please help us feel our interdependence

with all animal and human kin

I may be doing Moore a disservice by drawing attention to the poems that most directly express a ‘political’ message – there are plenty in the collection that concern other aspects of her life.

But for me, that is where the power in her work resides – not just in her expression of a message, but in her awareness of how important it is that this message be expressed, and in her acceptance of the responsibility that she bears to help express it.

This is perhaps something that has started to grow much more strongly within her, like an idea-child, in recent years, as she hints in ‘Sweet Pain’:

So I’ve chosen to embrace

different responsibilities – to journey through

my wounds to serve The Great Turning.

Now let revolutionary love suckle

at my breast – the desire’s been growing

As she explains in her ‘Notes’ at the end of the collection, the term “The Great Turning”, popularised by Joanna Macy and David Korten, describes “the movement from an industrial-growth society to a life-sustaining one”.

The book’s title comes from Thomas Berry’s proposal of an “Ecozoic Era”, denoting a new age where we live in harmony and “with the Earth as our community”.

William_Blake
William Blake

But an even more important presence in this book is that of William Blake (1757-1827). He also partly inspired its title, with his work The Four Zoas, and figures from his own personal poetic mythology – Tharmas, Urizen, Urthona and Luvah – here feature as headings for the sections of the collection.

Blake in many ways provides a bridge from the ancient world to the new. Historian Christopher Hill has written that he detects an inspiration for Blake’s Romantic vision in “an underground heretical tradition which influenced his thought in a communitarian and chiliastic direction”, which had been passed down by the “mystical anarchists” of the millenarian sects of the Middle Ages, especially the Brethren of the Free Spirit, via the English Revolution (for more on this see The Stifled Soul of Humankind).

Inspiring - Blake's mystic vision
Inspiring – Blake’s mystic vision

Blake’s spirit – “a kind of pantheistic idealism” to use a label deployed by anarchist writer Peter Marshall – resurfaced to dramatic effect at the end of the 19th century but has been somewhat crushed by the machineries and microchips of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

By placing herself in a direct line of ideological descent from Blake, Moore is doing more than expressing admiration for him. She is proclaiming herself as a contemporary manifestation of that same “underground heretical tradition”.

Of course, like all watery things, this stream of thought is not easy to pin down or define and in Moore it takes on a new shape, appropriate to our age and influenced by contemporary environmentalism and feminism – as well as by the very experience of living in these disastrously dislocated and disintegrating times.

However, it is clear to me that Moore is very consciously invoking, summoning up, the spirit that animated Blake, his predecessors and his successors – bringing it into existence in our midst, in England, in 2015, so that it can inspire once more.

She cites Thomas Berry as saying that that the Ecozoic Era is something that “we must will into being”, and in doing so she reveals that her chosen task is to help to do just that.

For we are too deeply buried now in layers of deepest delusion, deception and despotism for our salvation to come through straightforward means. It is becoming increasingly impossible for people to even imagine a world that is not choked by the capitalist cancer, let alone begin to create one.

Something more than narrow rationality is needed to snap us out of our sleepwalk towards the cliff edge. Something powerful and magical – something poetical! – needs to surge out of our dreams, out of our collective soul, something that can break the hypnotic spell and bring humankind to its waking senses.

Yes, “this is an emergency” – and an emergency to which Helen Moore for one is clearly prepared to respond.

Helen Moore

(Information on readings and other launch events can be found here)

Public Consultation on Slyer’s Lane wind farm, closes 20th December 2014

From West Dorset Pro Wind Facebook group

Application Number: WD/D/14/002611 Case Officer: Andrew Martin Tel: 01305 252227

For the application & to comment online West Dorset District Council “Planning Application Search”
http://webapps.westdorset-dc.gov.uk/PlanningApps/Pages/Planning.aspx?App=WD/D/14/002611

By post: Mr Martin, Case Officer, Planning Department , West Dorset District Council, South Walks House, South Walks, Dorchester DT1 1UZ

If you are writing your own letter make sure you include the application number and your address. Everyone 18 and over in your household can have his/her own say. You can use the same envelope or email address. Save a copy of what you write and use it to contact your local councillors and your MP. Check out the documents online or view at the Council offices on request.

It is an election year. With UKIP and others, there is a new level of climate change denial, a threat to cancel all targets on greenhouse gas emissions and plans to stop the development of renewables both wind and solar in its tracks.

Eco Lit Mini Conference this Sunday in Havant

FFS_001ECO LIT MINI CONFERENCE:

Havant Literary Festival

A half day conference on ecologically inspired literature. Bosmere School, South St, Havant Sunday 12 Oct 2.00 -5.45pm Tickets £10

 ..

  • Helen Moore, on lots of anti-fracking actions – reads from her work and explores the role of the eco-poet in the ecological movement.
  • Dr. Rebecca Welshman of Liverpool University – on the work of pioneer naturalist Richard Jefferies.
  • Dr. Adeline John-Putra of Surrey University – discusses the interplay of ecology and literature.
  • Naomi Foyle of Chichester University – the writer and activist talks about her new post-apocalyptic eco-novel Astra.
  • Organic vegan food from the catering co-op Wild Thyme.

Tim Dawes is offering free complimentary tickets to Greens and Anti-Fracking activists who find the entrance fee daunting. Just email him and ask to be put on the free admittance list.

Frack Free Solent news.

FFS_001Greening Petersfield presents a showing of GASLAND 7.30pm Thursday 18th September, Winton House Centre, 18 High Street, Petersfield GU32 1QA – Map
£4 (£2 concessions) tickets on the door

Film in brief:
Fracking has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.

London Climate March
A national march has been organised in London on Sunday 21st September 12.30 – 2.30pm to coincide with the upcoming climate talks in New York. Meet at 12:30pm at: Temple Place, WC2R 3BD – Map

March ends at Westminster with a huge group photo outside Parliament. More information

Friends of the Earth Frack Down Day
FoE is planning a national anti-fracking action day on Saturday 11th October. One strand of this work is the idea of putting Anti Fracking stickers on wheelie bins. Tim has a number of stickers on order. If anyone thinks their street / village might make a splash with wheelie bins stickered-up on either 11th or your collection day in the week following, please email him

FoE are still developing campaign ideas – you can contribute here:

March in Chichester

If you can’t make it to the London Climate March this Sunday 21st September, Transition Chichester are organising a local Climate March through the streets of Chichester from 12pm to 1pm to petition the Mayor, District and County Councils.

“In Chichester we plan to march with a petition to the Assembly Rooms in North Street (5 mins) to deliver our petition to the Mayor, where we will invite him to join us and march on to the District Council Offices (10 mins) to hand over the petition to the Leader of the District Council and we will invite her to join us and the Mayor to march on to the County Council Offices in West Street where we hope to deliver the petition to the Leader of the County Council and our MP. End time approx. 1pm”

For more info Contact Transition Chichester or phone 01243 539090

Funtington Public Info Meeting

Frack Free Solent are helping organise an information meeting about fracking, Friday 24 October at 7.30pm in Funtington Community Village Hall, Southbrook Rd, West Ashling, PO18 8DR. Map More details to follow.

Contact Frack Free Solent or visit our website

Frack Free Solent public information meetings.

FFS_001The government has rushed to let fracking licences all over southern England. Fracking is a very different process to conventional oil extraction requiring major industrial complexes at every wellhead. Typically well-heads are spaced at 1 mile intervals. These meetings are your chance to discuss the implications and get better informed.

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STOCKBRIDGE (between Winchester & Andover) on Tuesday 8 July at 7.30pm Stockbridge Town Hall, High St, Stockbridge SO20 6HE Map

  • Short film describing fracking
  • Marcus Adams from Frack Free Fernhurst
  • Becky Martin from Salisbury Against Fracking
  • Speaker from Hampshire Renewable Energy Collective
  • Question and answer session

IGas Energy, already responsible for a conventional oil well near Stockbridge, holds three exploration and development licences covering large areas between Stockbridge and Andover and Stockbridge and Winchester. In the next few years the Test Valley could become part of the new UK “Gas Lands” with the countryside becoming industrialised.

This meeting is your chance to discuss the implications and get informed so you are ready in the event that planning applications start to be made in this area.

PETERSFIELD on Saturday 12 July at 10.00am St Peter’s Parish Hall, St Peter’s Rd, Petersfield GU32 3HX Map

  • Short film describing fracking
  • Tim Dawes from Frack Free Solent
  • Brenda Pollock from Friends of the Earth
  • Peter McDowell, a geologist
  • Question and answer session

Celtique Energy has been given a large concession that includes Petersfield, Liphook and Midhurst and is presently applying for planning permission for a well-head at Fernhurst.

Contact Frack Free Solent or visit our website

Frack Free Solent April Newsletter

The campaign against fracking continues – there are now 115 anti-fracking groups in the UK.

Frack Free Solent has had another busy month, with two successful fundraising music nights and a public meeting in Forestside plus daily monitoring of the Markwells Wood site. We also gave a short talk to Portsmouth Trades Council, who have very kindly donated £100 towards our campaigning activities. Don’t forget to check our website for up to date info, news & more.

Markwells Wood

We are still monitoring the site at Markwells Wood, Forestside – a few hundred yards north of the – T-junction here. Exploration work could start at any time, and we will be strongly opposing this as it is very likely to include testing for the feasibility of using fracking at this site. The operator of the site, Northern Petroleum, has recently said that they are looking to sell all their UK assets – however, two other companies already part own the PEDL licence, and there are plenty of other possible buyers who could take over operations. Markwells Wood is within the South Downs National Park and is completely unsuitable for the type of large scale industrial extraction involved in fracking.

Forestside Meeting

Markwells Wood is directly next to the small village of Forestside. Frack Free Solent helped organise a public meeting for Forestside residents in March with several speakers, including Marcus Adams from Frack Free Fernhurst. Over 30 local residents attended, many of whom are now setting up a local group to campaign against fracking. We are now looking to organise another public meeting in nearby Compton, while a few miles further north another group has recently been set up in South Harting following a – meeting there

Green Film Festival

Frack Free Solent is sponsoring the showing of Gasland at Portsmouth Film Society’s Green Film Festival. This will be at 6.00pm on Friday 23 May at the Eldon Building in Portsmouth University, and will be followed by a debate with a panel made up of Tim Dawes and Stuart Mills from Frack Free Solent and a local geologist. We have 25 tickets available to buy online at the reduced price of £4 829 . The usual price is £6, or you can also buy a festival pass from PFS for £10, to see all three films – more info

Donations needed

We need cash! To campaign effectively, we need your donations to pay for leaflet printing, web hosting, hall hire etc. We are fortunate to have had some grant funding from Lush Cosmetics, plus donations from Unison & Portsmouth Trades Council, but we need more.

Please consider making a donation to us – you can make a bank transfer to the Frack Free Solent bank account: Account No – 65698017 Sort code – 08 92 99 Or you can use the donate button on our website to donate via paypal.

Facebook

To keep up to date with fracking locally and nationally, join Frack Free Solent’s Facebook group

Next organising meeting

Frack Free Solent holds regular organising meetings, which are open to anyone who wants to help us plan activities to oppose fracking. The next meeting will be on Thursday 10 April at 7.30pm in the back room of the – White Hart, 1 East St, Havant PO9 1AA

Links to other groups

Frack Off – national network against fracking – lots of useful info & resources

Frack Free Fernhurst

Frack Free Sussex

Contact Frack Free Solent

Security Thought Experiment, from Riseup.

Imagine you just found out a member of your project is actually a police informant. What project resources do they have access to? How will your group go about locking them out and protecting yourself? Is there any one person who could bring your project to a halt because they are the only one with certain passwords, access to mailing lists, or databases? Is there anyone who has access to a lot of data who doesn’t need it? (Which isn’t to say they are suspicious, but that a good security practice is limiting access only to people who need the information.)

Are there any changes you could make right now that would make an informant less of a problem?

For sure, this kind of thing seldom happens, but the more prepared we are, the stronger our group will be, and the more trust there can be between the members of the group.

I’m proud to be an “enemy of progress”

The inspiring battle against fracking currently taking place in Balcombe is rapidly unravelling some of the illusions people have about the society they live in.

It is clear for all to see how big business dictates government policy and uses the police as publicly-funded private security to protect its own anti-social activities.

As opposition to fracking grows, and actions against it force the issue on to the public agenda, there has also been an increasingly hysterical tone to the reporting and commenting in much of the media, which has blown apart any pretence of neutrality and exposed to many the existence of corporate interests lurking behind the scenes.

Desperately trying to regain control of their readers’ opinions, the shrill cheer-leaders for the industry have been wheeling out everything from phoney stories about the harmlessness of fracking to endless attempts to denigrate the protesters, though they never seem sure from one day to the next whether to be dismissive, sneering or alarmist.

The scale and effectiveness of the protests are pushing this media propaganda machine over the cliff edge of invective.

A marvellous example of this can be seen in today’s DailyTelegraph. You can almost see the froth from the leader writer’s pursed purple lips flying out at you from the text as he (and it probably is a male) condemns all of us who have protested at Balcombe as a “shrieking chorus of environmental zealots”, a “travelling circus of protest”, “new Luddites”, “eco-loonies” and, in crowning red-faced triumph, “enemies of progress”!

Progress, eh? Now what do they mean by that? Obviously, by the Telegraph’s definition, it includes fracking. It will also include any other form of mineral extraction, whether in the south of England, the Niger delta or the Arctic.

It includes road-building, of course. And airport expansion. And massive new housing estates all over the countryside. And high-speed rail lines. And nuclear power stations. Anything where there’s money to be made.

Historically, “progress” has included the genocide and environmental disaster inflicted on North America by the invasion of European settlers. It has included the loss of the rainforests, the pollution of the oceans, the extinction of species after species.

In the future, “progress” will inevitably take us into a world barely imaginable, where there is hardly a drop of fresh water to drink or a gulp of uncontaminated air to gulp in.

The idea of “progress” extending infinitely into the future is insane on a finite planet, as has been so often, said, but still its adherents cling to it.

“Progress” is the attitude that places financial profit at the top of the list of priorities for the human race, that sets it up as the pinnacle of all that we can aspire to.

Money does not even exist, it’s all just tokens, but for the “progress” death cult, it is all that matters. The “economy” always trumps the Earth.

This is a complete inversion of the morality that has always been cherished by humankind. We care about nature, we care about animals and we care about the future we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

Not so for the hard-nosed peddlers of “progress”. It’s all about short-term gain, quantity rather than quality, endless machineries destroying the living flesh of our planet and converting it into massive piles of toxic rubbish, just to generate a bit more temporary wealth and privilege for a tiny elite.

Alongside all this is the mindset of “progress”, or what I’d be tempted to call the “mindtrap” if such a word existed.

The advocates of “progress” demand that we share their assumption that society’s movement towards greater and greater industrialisation and destruction is not only desirable but inevitable.

With the arrogance of unchallenged power, they assume that there is only one future for the human race, namely the one they have laid out for it.

Anyone who dares to dissent from their master plan does not even merit the courtesy of a reasoned discussion – just abuse, derision and baying bloodthirsty calls for violent state repression of their unauthorised opinions.

As I’ve said before, the advocates of “progress” attempt to tie their own interests into the very notion of time itself, implying that movement in this particular linear direction is as inevitable as the passing of the seasons, or centuries, or millennia.

Critics are dismissed out of hand with the claim that “you can’t turn the clock back” – and yet you obviously can, for a clock, though designed to measure the passage of time, is not time itself and, as an artificial creation of humanity, can be artificially manipulated to record whatever time we want it to.

Likewise we can step back from the false connection made between the thing they call “progress” to the actual progression of time, the dawning of new days.

The future is not yet written and we do not need to – indeed should never allow ourselves to – accept any particular vision of what it should be.

I, for one, cannot accept that we are condemned to sit by and watch our planetary life-support system torn apart, poisoned and irreversibly damaged – and certainly not on the say-so of the professional liars and placemen who pass themselves off as journalists and politicians in our debased and entirely undemocratic society.

I, for one, am proud to be a twenty-first century Luddite, proud to be a zealot for the protection of the planet, proud to be an enemy of their “progress”.

In fact, I would say that if you’re not an enemy of “progress” then you’re an enemy of life itself.

Right – no time to waste. I’m off to catch the train back to Balcombe.