Anti-fracking group Friends of The Earth says the fracking halt was a victory for the community

Jamie Peters from Friends of the Earth, which has long campaigned against fracking on the Fylde coast, gives his view on the battle to halt fracking
Friends of the Earths Jamie Peters with Tina Rothery, left and Julie Daniels from teh Lancashire NanasFriends of the Earths Jamie Peters with Tina Rothery, left and Julie Daniels from teh Lancashire Nanas
Friends of the Earths Jamie Peters with Tina Rothery, left and Julie Daniels from teh Lancashire Nanas

Well, see you around, fracking. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

After all the years of protests, arrests, demonstrations, remonstrations, letters, emails, tears, rightful fears, tremors, quakes and community organising, the industry has left a field off Preston New Road with some holes in it.

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It didn’t need to be that way. The government could have backed a better, cleaner horse, but in their bid to go all out for fracking it only divided itself, but it also did an unintentionally wonderful thing at the same time: it united communities.

Community support for the fracking protestCommunity support for the fracking protest
Community support for the fracking protest

Friends of the Earth had been proud to stand alongside the real heroes of this story.

They don’t all wear capes, most wore oven gloves. They steadfastly refused to give in; simply wouldn’t say die and are now fantastically victorious having seen the back of fracking here.

I spoke to some of our friends when we heard about the government announcement of the moratorium on fracking.

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Tina Louise Rothery, one of the stalwart, cake-dispensing, Blackpool Nanas, said: “It is with certainty based on lived-experience that I say that without any one aspect of this anti-fracking movement - we would have failed.

People outside the gates at the Preston New Road drill sitePeople outside the gates at the Preston New Road drill site
People outside the gates at the Preston New Road drill site

“It took the coming together of residents, climate activists, NGOs, political groups and individuals to truly make this happen. I suppose each of us at some stage reached our individual realisation of the problem we were facing with fracking and then sought out ways to defend against it.

“At first, I felt alone, unsupported and bewildered - searching for ways to unite with groups and others I didn’t necessarily share anything in common with, then I met Helen Rimmer of Friends of the Earth. I saw form, purpose, resources, networking, and access to media.

"Travelling to Belfast and falling into the warmest welcome there by the Northern Ireland team was another step on the road to confidence and a genuine belief that we could do this.

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“We may all have had different approaches, methods and expectations of where the solution would come from but we could be one team with a shared end goal.

"Harmony didn’t mean singing the same tune - but drawing what we needed from each other to nourish the symphony.

I am getting a tad poetic because my heart is currently swimming in gratitude and joy. It’s been a bloody hard, long few years but I would do it all again for the beauty of the friendships and the admiration I have for my fellow campaigners in all their unique and glorious individuality.”

Barbara Richardson from Roseacre Awareness Group, said: “We have made many friends during the campaign and we have had some wonderful experiences.

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“It just goes to show how people power can affect a change for the better.”

Personally, I remember standing outside Lancashire County Council after the initial application was rejected back in 2015. There were tears of joy thinking we had won that sunny afternoon.

Little did we know that we’d come up against Westminster and have to win all over again because local concerns were completely ignored, but finally if feels like people have been vindicated.

Last Friday immediately after the announcement, timed to capture the weekend papers, talk understandably turned to the difference between a moratorium and a ban: this is truly a jubilant moment for Lancashire and every single second of celebration has been deserved. But we are still campaigning for a permanent ban.

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We will continue to pressure government to stop funding all fossil fuel exploration – here and abroad and put an end to any onshore oil and gas exploration like those still proposed in other parts of England.

There are other communities who will continue to fight extraction, for example, campaigners are looking to bring a Judicial Review against the decision of Surrey County Council to grant permission for 4 more oil wells.

We’ve got to be honest about the climate emergency we face - digging up more of the earth’s resources can’t happen if we are taking the challenge seriously.

And we should be mindful that people in other parts of the world, also fighting damaging,extractive industries, have already lost their homes and livelihoods to the worsening effects of climate chaos: this is why we have to act like it is an emergency.

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Let’s now push for Cuadrilla to leave the site as they found it - and this goes for all sites everywhere.

It’s crystal clear that a responsible government needs to invest in cleaner, greener energy, and the needed jobs that come with that. Fracking has been a waste of time and money.

But for Lancashire this is amazing and shows what can be achieved when people come together to do the right thing by their local environment, and by extension, the planet.

The fight against the fossil fuel industry must and will continue, inspired by the people of Lancashire who stood up come rain, hail or shine, but,for now, it’s time to celebrate.

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The fracking industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, has said that it and gas exploration companies such as Cuadrilla Resources, would continue to work to show that fracking could still be carried out in the UK and would gather new evidence.

It said it will try to convince the Government to end the moratorium.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, on behalf of the industry said: “We have now seen the released technical reports and our operational teams are in the process of reviewing them. A full analysis will need to be completed before the industry is able to comment further.

“Hydraulic fracturing stimulation is a long-standing technology used around the world and in a number of industries, including the oil and gas, water and geothermal sectors.

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“Going forward, we are fully committed to working closely with the Oil and Gas Authority and other relevant regulators to demonstrate that we can operate safely and environmentally responsibly.

“Given the size of the prize at stake -the significantly lower carbon footprint of domestic gas compared to imports and the significant investment the industry and the Government have already made - we believe this is the right approach.”

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