Greenpeace erecting their fracking rig in Parliament Square, London early this morning. Photo: Greenpeace.
They don't like it up'em: Greenpeace 'frack' Parliament Square
9th February 2016
As Cuadrilla's application to frack in Lancashire goes to public inquiry today, protestors from Greenpeace have installed a full-size 'fracking rig' in Parliament Square, London, complete with flare and deafening sound effects, to let MP's know just how great it is to have a fracking well on your doorstep.
This is an affront to local democracy. People who love and live in the countryside and who care about climate change will not stand for a government riding roughshod over communities to industrialise our landscape and damage the climate.
Greenpeace has installed a life-like ten-metre fracking rig outside the UK Parliament in London to "bring the local impacts of fracking to the heart of democracy."
The rig emits a realistic flame which is firing up every hour using bio ethanol, while flood lighting and the sound effects of drilling and lorries are reverberating around the House of Commons.
Installed before dawn this morning by operatives in day-glo jackets bearing the 'frack and go' name and logo, the drilling rig is still in place this afternoon closely attended by media and curious passers by.
Hannah Martin, Greenpeace campaigner said: "We are here to fight for the future of the English countryside. Ministers are pushing aside local democracy to bulldoze through their unpopular fracking plans.
"We have installed a life-like fracking rig and drill at Parliament Square to show them what people in Lancashire and beyond will have to endure if so-called 'Communities Minister' Greg Clark forces fracking on a reluctant nation."
Greg, ever heard of 'localism'? Oh yes, you invented it ...
The protest and polling results coincide with the first day of the independent Planning Inspectorate inquiry into whether fracking will go ahead in Lancashire.
Energy company Cuadrilla - which is owned by companies based in Australia and the Cayman Islands, a notorious UK tax haven - is appealing against Lancashire county council's decision to reject its fracking application.
However, Greg Clark, the Communities Minister, has already announced he will have the final say on whether Cuadrilla will be allowed to frack in Lancashire. In a bid to fast track fracking, the government announced last year that he could ignore both the decision by the local council and the Planning Inspectorate.
In a letter sent to Lancashire County Council in November last year, Greg Clark explained: "The reason for this direction is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties."
Previously Greg Clark had been vocal in his support for the idea of local decision-making. Back In 2011 he said that local councils should "wield real power." And last year, Clark told the Local Government Association that they must "Take power now. Don't let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else."
However it appears that Greg Clark's 'localism' is strictly about local communities right to decide the way the government wants them to.
Minister - come to Lancashire let's talk fracking!
A protest rally is also taking place today outside Blackpool Football club where the inquiry is being held. Jasber Singh, from Lancashire and part of Frack Free Lancashire said: "I have been involved with anti-fracking community groups in Lancashire for over two years, and the number of groups keeps increasing.
"That's because we are not going to gain anything from fracking apart from air, noise, land and water pollution that's bad for our health and the health of the climate. It would pay the Communities Minister to visit some communities in Lancashire rather than ignoring us and our council."
A new Populus poll released today by Greenpeace shows that nearly two-thirds (62%) of people in the UK think their local council, not central government departments, should decide whether to accept or reject fracking applications in their local area.
Last weekend, campaigners and local people were angered further by a leaked letter from three Cabinet ministers - Liz Truss, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark to George Osborne. The letter suggested that fracking applications could be taken out of local authorities' control altogether and immediately passed to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning process.
"This is an affront to local democracy and shows a lack of respect for people's wishes", said Hannah Martin. "People who love and live in the countryside and who care about climate change will not stand for a government riding roughshod over democracy to industrialise our landscape and damage the climate."
"We and the government know that most known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we are to have any chance of combating climate change. A dash for gas is simply not an environmentally and economically effective strategy to power the UK after the Paris climate agreement."
Cuadrilla, the biggest UK shale company, is 45% owned by Riverstone, a private equity company fund registered in the Cayman Islands. Another 45% is owned by AJ Lucas, an Australian company, whose largest shareholder, Kerogen Investments, is also registered in the Cayman Islands.
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