UK Activists Jailed after Peaceful Protest against Fracking

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UK anti-fracking campaigners have been jailed for taking part in a peaceful protest against Cuadrilla. The four men were charged after taking part in a four-day direct action protest blocking a convoy of trucks to the area.

Simon Roscoe Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, have been sentenced to 16 months in prison, Richard Loizou, 31, was sentenced to 15 months on Wednesday after being convicted of causing a public nuisance by a jury at Preston crown court in August. Another defendant, Julian Brock, 47, was given a 12-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the same offence. Three of these men will be the first people to be put in jail in Britain after a protest since the 1930s.

”Protest is like a safety valve for democracy, we wouldn’t have had the vote, we wouldn’t have ended slavery, we wouldn’t have had civil rights, we wouldn’t have had a decent working week, we wouldn’t have had half the parks and open spaces we actually have around the country if it wasn’t for protest, protest is what keeps the government in check, it is a very reasonable check for corporate power and for that influence corporate power has on the government, it’s an essential thing in a healthy democracy.”

What are the environmental and health concerns with Fracking?

Potential environmental impacts as a result of fracking, include subsurface water contamination with thermogenic methane and risks from chemical additives to fracturing fluids which, could have adverse health effects. These factors are exacerbated by air pollution and air quality degradation, as well as soil contamination from involved radioactive materials. The large quantities of water required to make gas wells productive, (an average 15.91 million litres of water ), leads to concerns that fracking will intensify risks to water-stressed regions and negatively impact upon increased water taxes and prices. Seismic risks, such as those experienced in the Northwest of England in 2011 after shale exploration company Cuadrilla’s fracking activities.

Shale gas also has significant implications for global climate change. Natural gas produces approximate 45% lower CO2 emissions per British thermal unit (Btu) than coal, alongside lower levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and mercury. Concerns over fugitive methane emissions are also an issue, as are methane which exacerbates the global greenhouse effect and diminishes local air quality.

Profit over civil liberties and the rights of Nature

Some key government figures politicians and corporate stakeholders are arm in arm with oil and gas companies worldwide. Politicians and oil barons are often one of the same, British Petrol has close ties to the government. The UK Conservative government spent 46 per cent of money on fossil fuels overseas while barely more than a fifth was spent on renewable energy sources. The Conservative party is heavily reliant on lobbying from fossil fuel companies, cash donations from bankers, investors and hedge funds.

After recent discoveries over indigenous oil and gas reserves in the Northern and Southern parts of the UK for example it is estimated there is up to 100 billion barrels of oil onshore beneath southern England . The UK government projections are invested in local indigenous oil and gas reserves which they want to increase extraction by 2035. This is for an estimated 20 billion barrels of indigenous oil and gas at a revenue of over £290 billion , not including the 100 billion barrels of oil beneath southern England.

Since 2015, Cuadrillo was given political support and license from the National Government in London as a result civilians protesting for the protection of the environment and human health concerns cannot stand in the way of government and energy giant investments in corporate profits.

The Labour party were no better when they were in power, Tony Blair was deeply involved with Egypt and Israel’s gas industry as an energy advisor, it was revealed that they were involved with plundering Gaza’s gas ocean-based reserves, which Israel is planning on selling to Egypt. The Labour Party received up to 2.5 million pounds in donations in less than a year from energy giants as a means to influence a privileged few in their environmental policies to become more flexible for energy industries.

The same thing happens in the USA, Oil companies pay politicians through lobbying agencies to influence their policy making decisions, it’s really a legalized form of bribery so that corporations can own politics and bypass environmental protection laws, this is why we are seeing ecocide and mass extinction at an unprecedented rate between 150 and 200 species are disappearing per day. Brazil’s supreme court has just banned Corporations from donating money to political elections. This is a great example of how to deal with this high level of corruption and should be made an international law to protect the environment.

You could say that the most powerful government positions are mostly filled by those who either run oil companies or are connected to the families of those who run oil and gas companies. Their goal is to make sure that our society stays in a kind of stasis, dependent on oil and gas, as it keeps the present governments in power, and generates for them a huge financial profit at a cost we all are paying for our health being affected, by global environmental destruction. This addiction to power and money through oil sales, is an addiction each of us are a part of, even if it is involuntary, but it is costing us the very Earth on which we live. We need to push local government and national governments towards sustainable alternatives, we need to pressure law makers to change the laws to protect nature. Our capitalist governments and western society has regressed to become a corporate oligarchy that is not only robbing us of our human liberties but is also driving us to global ecocide. Environmental protection is not a crime, it is a necessity in an age where corporate greed is causing ecocide. Meanwhile, these men have been put in prison for fighting to protect the environment and human health.

Please support these young men and our right to protest, and need to protect the environment against corporate greed. 

Sign the Petition for an Inquiry into the declining space for civil society to oppose the UK Fracking industry

by

Carlita Shaw

 

Further reading

Oil and Gas Stakehold Blueprint for government 2017

Revealed: BP’s close ties with the UK government

Oil wells in England’s green and pleasant land: Kemp

The Silent Ecocide, a crisis of consciousness

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