On Wednesday 14th January, a coalition of grassroots campaign groups are hosting a mass lobby of Parliament against the Infrastructure Bill that is currently being pushed through Parliament [1]. The Bill has been described by George Monbiot as a “[graveyard] for burying bad news” [2] and includes several controversial clauses which, for example, would make it a legal obligation to “maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas”, and change our trespass laws to allow oil and gas companies to not only frack under our homes without our consent, but to also “leave any substance or infrastructure in the land.” [3]

The British public did not vote for fracking, and the extraction of more oil and gas will destroy any hopes of tackling runaway climate change. If passed unchallenged, this bill could irrevocably pave the way for fracking in the UK, by removing our land rights to oppose it. But recently tabled amendments from Caroline Lucas (Green) and Norman Baker (Lib Dems), including the critical removal of the very significant clauses on fracking and oil & gas drilling, could stop fracking in its tracks [4].

Visit Parliament on Wednesday 14th January

Talk Fracking believe this Mass Lobby is a great way to engage with the democratic process and request that as many of us as possible participate in this empowering action. Time is running out, and we need to act fast. Although passing a bill through Parliament is normally a lengthy process, the Government is trying to rush the extremely complex Infrastructure Bill through the House of Commons at lightening speed. [5] The first reading was held on 20th November 2014, the second reading on 8th December. The Bill has since been at the Committee Stage (due to end on Thursday 15th January) where a select Committee have been debating it and making amendments.

After 15th January, The Committee’s amended version of the Bill will then move to the Report Stage, when any MP within the House of Commons will be able to debate the Bill and propose additional amendments. This means that now is the best time to let your MP know that you are opposed to the Bill as it currently stands. The more MPs that support proposed amendments, the better the chances of getting those amendment selected for debate, so it’s crucial that we get as many MPs as possible to support the amendments that Caroline Lucas and Norman Baker are proposing. It’s also crucial that we ask our MPs to demand the disclosure of the Government’s heavily redacted DEFRA report on the economic impacts of fracking, before the Bill is voted on [6].

By having a physical presence in Parliament, you can show your MP just how important the Bill is to the general public. The more people present, the louder our collective voice.

How to Lobby Your MP

Parliament may seem quite exclusive with its massive gates and armed guards. But anyone can walk into its hallowed halls and meet their MP. This can be done in two ways.

1. Arrange a meeting with your MP

We all have a right to speak to our MPs and lobby them on any issue.   You can call your MP’s office (020 7219 3000)or write them (https://www.writetothem.com/) in advance, to inform them of the lobby and ask to arrange an appointment for 14th January.

2. Use a “Green Card” lobby.

If your MP has been slow to respond to you, or you don’t manage to secure an appointment, you can do a “green card” lobby. This involves going to the Central Lobby of Parliament and asking to fill in a green card. On the card, you write your name and the issue you want to speak to your MP about. The clerk will then take this card to your MP’s office and let them know that you are there to speak to them.

Some MPs may be too busy to speak to you in which case they may elect to send one of their researchers to meet with you. Others may not be able to meet with you that day at all and may say that they’ll have to send you a written response. However with a general election less than 5 months away, one would imagine that any MP seeking re-election would make time to come and speak to their constituents.

Participants to the mass lobby will meet from 11am on the day in the Central Lobby of Parliament. Having several people gathering in the Central Lobby of Parliament all seeking to speak to their MPs about the same issue (hence the term “mass lobby”) will highlight just how important this issue is to the general public. Show the Government that you are opposed to this bill, and its gateway to a fracked future. If you are able to attend, we look forward to seeing you there. If not, please be sure to write and/or call your MP on the day.

Talk Fracking

Sources:
[1] www.facebook.com/events/1526572850952660
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2015/jan/07/why-leaving-fossil-fuels-in-ground-good-for-everyone
[3] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/11/infrastructure-bill-threat-rights-british-public
[4] http://drillordrop.com/2014/12/18/sussex-mps-seek-to-cut-fracking-from-infrastructure-bill/
[5] http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/infrastructure.html
[6] http://www.talkfracking.org/news/stop-defras-fracking-cover-up/