Our ‘War On Fracking’ direct action workshop at Upton Community Protection Camp took place on Saturday 5th December 2015 and participants included Dame Vivienne Westwood
The Workshop gave beginners a chance to learn direct action skills at Upton Community Protection Camp, near Chester.
During the 45-minute workshop, participants were taught how to safely ‘lock on’ using tubes, chains and d-locks. Dame Vivienne Westwood, activist and supporter of the Upton camp, took park in the workshop. Vivienne said, “Now the democratic process has been overruled by [Secretary of State] Greg Clark in Lancashire, despite residents having won the decision not to frack; there is no other option left for the British public other than to take direct action to protect themselves from this fracking menace”.
Westwood’s comments come after the government announced that Clark should have the final say on fracking, despite previously campaigning for more power for local government.
The Upton camp was set up as a pre-emptive move to stop iGas drilling for coal bed methane. It is the longest running anti-fracking camp in the UK and the first to occupy the actual site where exploratory drilling is intended. Campaigners from ‘Frack Free Upton’ say the closest houses are just 500 metres from the site and there are eight schools with over 3,200 pupils in total within one mile of the site.
Last month, the camp was served an eviction notice after iGas bought the land. Bailiffs could show up anytime after Friday 4th December 2015. Vivienne and Talk Fracking invited the public to take direct action and help occupy the space to stop the eviction of local residents who are protecting the site. The workshop covered how to occupy spaces licensed for fracking, how to beat the bailiffs and handle the authorities.
This was Vivienne’s third visit to the site in Duttons Lane occupied by ‘community protectors’ who have been on the land since 5th April 2014. She first visited the site in June 2014. She was also there a fortnight ago and campaigners were adamant they would not be shifted.
Vivienne said, “The government is undemocratically pushing ahead with their fracking agenda, bypassing local authorities – despite thousands of people writing objection letters and the planning committee at Lancashire County Council rejecting planning applications”.
Before the workshop, Upton Cllr Matt Bryan said that despite the eviction notice, they fully expect to welcome Dame Vivienne Westwood when she visits the site.
“We are being attacked by our own government,” says Westwood, prior to her visit. “They need to realise we have terrorists on our doorstep and they’re called Frackers. Considerably more loss of life is expected than the dangerous oil and gas company bosses and politicians can ever cover up”. In America between 2008 and 2012, fracking reportedly killed 545 people with death toll in four year period to 2016 expected to rocket. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple told Wall Street Journal earlier this year that the fracking industry is ‘among the most dangerous in America’.
On September 11th 2015, Westwood drove a tank to the private residence of Prime Minister David Cameron with The Nanas declaring ‘War on Fracking’.
Those participating in the workshop included local councillors, teachers, farmers, business people and others from the local area. Christine Watson, Head Teacher at Upton High School, said “A Geologist told me about Fracking about four years ago and the horrendous environmental impact which is irreversible. I have since found out that toxic particles are found sixty miles from Fracking Sites. Dealing with the toxic water has not been thought through anywhere yet in the world.
It is incredible how knowing that even a minor earthquake can buckle a well casing that this has been passed planning permission. Am amazed at the deathly silence of Chester West & Chester Council.
I also found out recently that Cheshire has multiple fault lines unlike other places where Fracking has been carried out, Australia Eastern & mid-Western USA plus even California, which is on the San Andreas Fault line.”
Cllr Matt Bryan, Upton Ward. Cheshire West and Chester Council said, “The camp is an integral part in protecting our community and as a borough and parish councillor I will continue to all I can to stop the progression of this unwanted industry both politically and as an activist.”
Peter Benson, Chester & District Friends of the Earth Coordinator said, “This weekend, the sharp end of the UK campaign is on this field in Upton with people who have already sacrificed so much to hold this land against the frackers and prepared to do so much more in the coming days. The very least the rest of us can do is come and show our total support; bear witness to what happens here and who knows, maybe join the front line ourselves.”
Grandmother and campaigner from ‘The Nanas’, Tina Louise Rothery, said, “Our communities are being put at risk and we are no longer even able to rely on a fair hearing through our Councillors on planning applications as Westminster has shown they are willing to make the decisions for us if ours don’t suit them. Preventing unconventional energy companies from riding roughshod over our communities, whilst the government cheerleads for them, is a demanding yet essential task. We stand now with Upton, Cheshire as this camp defends against iGas plans for coal bed methane (techniques similar to fracking) extraction and intends on evicting the campaigners. We are defending our young because the regulators aren’t strong enough to ensure their safety. We cannot and will not stop until the energy companies do – because to do so would show neglect for our children.”
“We have to fight the government on every issue. Every one of their acts is a crime against humanity. We’re in terrible danger. We have to stop them. We have to win every battle or lose the future”, Westwood adds.
Join the camp and help stop the eviction.
Address: Upton Community Protection Camp, Duttons Lane, Upton, Chester CH2 2PE