Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
24 June 2015
Protesting against fracking, Lancs June 2015, photo by Dave Beale
Protests against fracking in Lancashire: Stop drill permits!
Hundreds of Lancashire residents and anti-fracking campaigners lobbied Lancashire county council on 23 June, demanding that the council doesn't give permission for fracking company Cuadrilla to drill at two sites, Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood.
The Socialist Party is 100% opposed to fracking - under no circumstances is this the answer. On councils such as nearby Fleetwood (see below) and Warrington, our members are pushing for a policy of total opposition to it.
This week's council debate follows protests earlier this year which led to a postponement of the decision on these sites, coincidentally until after the May elections!
Cuadrilla and its allies in the government and the media have put huge pressure on the county council. Planning officers last week recommended giving permission to frack Little Plumpton but not Roseacre.
If the county council approves some fracking, then a campaign of mass action can still make fracking ruinously expensive for the companies involved.
If on the other hand it rules out fracking at both sites, this will be a major boost for the anti-fracking movement. In Lancashire, we will demand that the council pledges to refuse all permits to frack. Campaigners everywhere will have added impetus to pile massive pressure on local authorities to pledge to refuse drill permits.
Threat back to the fore
Fracking earlier this year was in serious trouble, economically and politically. Panicky politicians wanted to kick the issue into the long grass; various moratoriums were announced. But in a world awash with super-profits and huge bank bailouts, fracking remains on the agenda, while its backers are a law unto themselves.
Protesting against fracking, Lancs June 2015, Photo by Dave Beale
We need councillors prepared to stand up to central government and the corporate sharks. The main parties will not do that - their elected representatives need to be replaced.
Some people, understandably, see the Greens as the alternative. We work closely with many Green supporters. However, the actions of Green councillors in office in Brighton, Bristol and elsewhere, and remarks made by leading Greens about 'progressive coalitions' with Lib-Dems or second-preference votes in the London mayoral election for the Tory Zac Goldsmith, show that the Green party will not deliver when it comes to a head-on collision with the corporate parties and the establishment.
Socialist planning for the environment
Socialist policies are essential to fighting fracking because only democratic socialist public ownership can take the vast resources of the energy industry and financial sector out of the hands of greedy profiteers. Only a democratic socialist plan can deliver the investment needed to switch to a sustainable economy and deal with the damage done by climate change.
Essential too is the socialist method of mass struggle, to mobilise the force that is much stronger than the establishment - a mass movement with a programme that links anti-fracking with energy renationalisation to end fuel poverty; and with anti-austerity policies to benefit the 99%. That can mobilise the mass of the population to beat back the frackers and their lackeys and backers.
Our Socialist Party stall on the demo campaigning for a total ban on fracking and the nationalisation of the energy industry received a tremendous response, selling 50 copies of the Socialist, and several people filled out cards to find out more about us. Hundreds of Socialist Party and TUSC leaflets were snapped up by the crowd.
Update on 26.6.15:
Lancs county council unanimously followed the advice of the planning officers and on 25 June rejected Cuadrilla's application to drill at Roseacre Wood.
On Monday at 10am in County Hall, Preston, the council will start considering whether to allow fracking at Little Plumpton, the site which the council's planning officers recommended Cuadrilla should be allowed to drill.
Will the council hide behind the planning officers, or stand up to Cuadrilla? Detailed following of the hearings online here: http://frack-off.org.uk/the-frack-stops-here-2-live-updates/
Further update on 26.6.15:
With the planning application for fracking at Lancashire's Preston New Road site coming up for decision on Monday 29th June, Lancs County Council has sought legal advice. That advice has now been made public and makes clear that it's not unlawful for councillors to reject the application.
What it does say is that they may not win an appeal and could end up paying the costs.
I spoke to a planning expert this morning who confirmed that if councillors reject the application on whatever grounds, they are not breaking the law. In addition, if they have some reasonable grounds for rejecting it, it's unlikely they would have to pay the costs of an appeal.
In short, it would make a mockery of democracy if the council accepted the application because of fear of paying appeal costs.
Either way, it would be a scandal if the Labour-controlled council accepts this planning application. It's currently implementing £300 million in cuts and doing the Tory government's dirty work. If it accepts this planning application it will also be doing Caudrilla's dirty work - a fracking company which is linked to the notorious US multinational Carlyle Group, infamous for its connection with the Bush family.
TUSC councillor opposes fracking
TUSC councillor Simon Roberts is pushing for Fleetwood town council to adopt a policy of opposition to fracking. Simon says:
"I am proposing that the town council adopts a position of opposing all fracking and calls on borough and county councils to do likewise. The people of Fleetwood would be far better served by investment into renewable energy, which is not only safe and clean but would also create many more local jobs that we so badly need".
Simon stood for local election in May as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition's biggest-ever left challenge - 135 parliamentary candidates and 619 council candidates, all opposed to fracking.
Read more about TUSC at www.tusc.org.uk