Fracking is bad for the environment, photo Casey Hugelfink (Creatvie Commons)

Fracking is bad for the environment, photo Casey Hugelfink (Creatvie Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Dan Gilmore, Newcastle Socialist Party

After seven years of an England-wide ban on fracking, high court judge Justice Supperstone has overturned a request for an injunction on the soon to be opened fracking site in Lancashire run by Cuadrilla.

Fracking continues to be pushed by big business despite complete condemnation by climate scientists and trade unionists, and this decision effectively opens the floodgates for fracking nationwide despite the complete lack of support from the public.

This decision comes just two weeks after the ruling by Judge Robert Altham to jail three anti-fracking protesters for up to 18 months, with another protestor being given a 12 month suspended sentence. These sentences represent an outrageous attack on the democratic right to protest. This sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

Several trade unions, including the National Education Union, the transport union TSSA and bakers’ union BFAWU, called the sentences “politically motivated” and “manifestly excessive”.

Recent information about Judge Altham has shown his family business, JC Altham and Sons, has direct supply ties to the Irish Sea oil and gas industries.

The company owns three oil rigs in the Irish Sea which supply the energy company Centrica, who in turn have pumped millions of pounds into Cuadrilla.

In addition, Judge Altham’s sister Jane, alongside 119 other businesses in the area, has lent her name to an open letter written by the ‘North West Energy Task Force’ (now ‘Lancashire For Sale’) which directly petitioned Lancashire County Council to allow fracking to continue. After hearing of the prison sentences Lancashire For Sale has callously remarked that “justice had been served effectively”.

These obvious conflicts of interest show how far capitalists will go to protect their profits. Only a socialist society can guarantee the democracy of the working class and protect our environment. We must stand together against those that would potentially trigger earthquakes, poison our water and fracture our communities in the name of profit.