Many thanks to Liz Cruse for this guest post originally published on The Warrior’s Call website…
Walking the lanes and tracks of my local countryside, there was one particular nondescript shrub that seemed to always catch my attention, but growing, as it was, on the side of the road and with little about it to give me a clue as to its identity, I would just greet it and carry on my way, keeping it at the back of my mind as something to explore when the time was right.
This area of the country is heavily under threat from the fracking industry. Not too far away are several sites where fracking company IGas have undertaken exploratory drilling – with inherited planning permission to sample the underlying coal bed for coalbed methane, they just kept on drilling deeper and sampled the shale hundreds of metres deeper still, building up their data and portfolio for their shale-fracking plans without bothering to get specific permission to do so.
Why complain? The deed is done, and only found out long after the event. This is when we also found out that there is no specific punishment for drilling too far down and sampling a completely different rock layer, paving a way for a different kind of industry than they had permission for. Planning applications cover the above ground works, there is little or no local planning jurisdiction for what goes on unseen below our feet, deep in the earth.
This has been the case at several sites in Cheshire. At first when us mere locals started raising awareness and asking questions , we would have this rebuff thrown back in our faces “its only exploratory drilling, its not even fracking, its coalbed methane” used to rubbish our arguments and belittle our knowledge. Slowly the company portfolio built up. their business info never referred to coalbed methane, it was always shale, FRACK FRACK FRACK and gradually the cries of “..it’s only…..” got less and less.
Several miles away, for almost two years, stood Upton Community Protection Camp that occupied the site of one of these spots where the company wanted to drill, only to explore, only to sample the coal, but we all knew what the agenda was as the smaller companies got bought up by gradually bigger and bigger ones, while the camp stopped them getting onto the site, the inherited planning permission for “its only…” was handed on and on through take-overs, to companies who had no interest in coalbed methane, only the shale, but what the planning permission gave them, was permission to get onto the land and break the earth with a drill.
In September 2015, the fracking company IGas took over the lease of the land that the camp was on, for the tune of £60,000. Money talks, and who are we to get in the way of progress? Nobody knew until October 2015 when one of the long term campers from the site returned from taking her children to school, to find members of a private security firm – ex marines no less – trying to force entry into her home to post up notices, bang them into the ground, to inform everyone that the leaseholder had changed and the camp was not welcome. “Its only a notice…..”
She raised the alarm and woke the others up, and in the chaos that ensued, people did their best to deny access onto the camp, in an almost comical (if the consequences weren’t so serious) event captured here on film, one of the security firm claimed he was assaulted, at the end of the incident, three of the camp members had been arrested for assault and the notices posted…To read the entire article click here.