Yesterday at Reclaim the Power the whole site was powered entirely by wind. Our self-built wind turbine was whizzing around generating 300 watts of power for all of our lighting and technology needs such as the media team’s laptops, phones and printers. We also have three solar energy systems, a much more diverse power system than last year. We have a large surplus of energy, powered by the clean, renewable sources.
The camp is demonstrating in practice that 100% renewable power is possible for the whole UK right now. The Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Britain report has shown how it is possible for the UK to be 100% powered by renewables by 2030 using only existing technology. The UK is Europe’s windiest country, and one of the best locations for wind power in the world. We also have the largest amount of coastline with a huge capacity for offshore wind as well as tidal energy generation. Yet rather than invest in renewables the government is instead pushing ahead with a dash for fracked gas, against the wishes and interests of local communities.
Saturday afternoon’s Community Anti-Fracking Forum saw many anti-fracking activists and regional Frack Free groups talking about how they are resisting this. Diane from Frack Free Dee, a coalition of Frack Free groups in Cheshire, North Wales, North Shropshire and Merseyside, opened the session. Diane lives in rural Cheshire. Her anti-fracking activism began when she looked out of her windows one day and spotted a tower of lights in the distance, which transpired to be an exploratory drilling rig. Learning about fracking at the local public awareness meeting, she felt in her gut that something fundamental had changed in her life, and began to organise in her community.
Many groups shared their stories. We heard that Frack Free Farndon have set up camp near a test drill site, and that the local authority in Wrexham have rejected Dart Energy’s planning application. Although the energy company is appealing the decision, Frack Free groups from across the region have written to the authority asking the council to uphold the decision. We heard that the proposed Underground Coal Gasification project in Wirral is across the water from a chemical plant. The community is horrified: Underground Coal Gasification has caused explosions elsewhere. We also heard that at one community meeting, the local Conservative, Labour, Green and Lib Dem candidates all declared they too were anti-fracking. Diane asks, and rightly so, why then is fracking happening? Who is benefiting? Where does the government think fracking’s democratic mandate comes from?
The stories we heard of resistance within so many communities in the UK against fracking clearly show that the people are against fracking. These groups are firmly embedded within their communities and have organised along the principles of consensus, collaboration, collective ownership, inclusivity, positivity, non-violence and sharing facilitation, so no one person can override the community’s collective decision. Anybody who attended the Community Anti-Fracking Forum would agree that it is these groups, not Westminster or the energy companies, that have the mandate to speak on behalf of their communities.
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By Nathan Thanki and Asad Rehman.
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