Anti-fracking campaigners set up a ten-metre-high mock drilling rig in Parliament Square today in protest at the Government’s support for the controversial process.
The rig, featuring a ‘flare’ that fires up every hour, was installed by Greenpeace and is located opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.
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It was erected to coincide with the first day of a public inquiry into energy company Cuadrilla’s persistent applications to frack for shale gas in Lancashire.
Last June, Lancashire county councilors rejected the firm’s application to frack on the grounds it would have “an unacceptable adverse impact on the landscape” and would have an “unacceptable noise impact for local residents.”
Community Secretary Greg Clark has said he will intervene to take the final decision.
A survey conducted by Populus for Greenpeace found that 62 percent of people think local councils should have the right to permit or reject fracking applications in their area.
But ministers have sought to justify the government’s move, claiming the search for shale gas is in the national interest.
Greenpeace, however, accuses the government of attempting to fast track fracking in the UK by reserving the right to overturn local decisions.
“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,” said energy campaigner Hannah Martin.
“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.
“This is an affront to local democracy and shows a lack of respect for people’s wishes … 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 industrialize our landscape and damage the climate,” she added.
Frack Free Lancashire campaigner Jasber Singh said the campaign to resist fracking is growing stronger.
“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.”