Once again a highlight of Reclaim The Power is the Solidarity Sunday march. Hundreds of anti-fracking groups from across Lancashire and beyond gathered on Blackpool seafront yesterday to march against the Government’s proposals to introduce fracking and demand a more sustainable future. Members of the Reclaim The Power action camp also joined the march in solidarity, bringing total numbers to at least one thousand. We rallied with the wind beating through our hair, led by a troop of invincible mums and grandmas from Frack Free Lancashire. The march started at South pier and finished off at the North pier by Blackpool’s iconic tower.
Many people were frustrated and angry that the Government continues to ignore their concerns about fracking – despite clear evidence of severe health and environmental risks. “Nobody’s listening. We’ve tried and tried to have a debate with councillors, MPs and the fracking companies, but no one wants to know,” said Pam Foster of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF). “It comes down to narrow-mindedness, short-sightedness and vested interests,” Ian Roberts (RAFF) added. “But the people of Lancashire aren’t going to be bullied into this filthy industry, and our voice united is so powerful that the politicians are going to have to listen now.”
Peter Russell of Keep East Lancashire Frack Free (KELFF) agreed: “Politicians don’t care about people; they only care about money and profit. But soon they will realise this isn’t a vote winner and it’s not economically viable so I’m very optimistic they will change their policy.”
Mums, dads and kids were out in full force – many were new to campaigning and activism, but compelled to take to the streets and piers. Lancashire mother and soon-to-be grandmother Lynda Smith explained: “I started off being pro-fracking because I didn’t know anything about it, but then I went to a meeting and heard a professional geologist explain exactly what it was. I came out so shocked and horrified. I simply don’t want my children to live in a poisoned world.”
The atmosphere was lively and positive, and it was clear everyone felt confident that fracking can be stopped. John Powney of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) said: “I’m upbeat that we are going to beat fracking. Two or three years ago that wasn’t the case, but we are now starting to see politicians listen, and crucially councils are starting to turn down planning applications, which is a massive victory for the whole movement. That’s thanks to everyone working so hard to get the word out there, and thanks to marches like this one today. It is fantastic that Reclaim The Power has brought us all together; it’s vital for this campaign.”
I was most excited to see how many people are passionate about renewable energy as an alternative to fracking. Fracking has opened up a new debate for many who hadn’t engaged with it before about the issue of climate change and the need for sustainable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels to power our communities. As Peter Russell put it, “Britain is best placed in the whole of Europe to benefit from wind power and other renewables. It’s time we put an end to fracking and become world leaders in this field.”
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