Emma Thompson: Welcome to the Frack Free Bake Off!
I can say with certainty that these are words I’ve never uttered before: This morning I’m in a field in Lancashire, helping set up a makeshift kitchen and getting ready to take part in a baking-themed protest over plans to frack for gas under the ground I’m stood on.
It’s an unusual way of protesting. So why, dear reader, would I do such a thing?
For almost five years, Lancashire has been in the midst of a battle to stop the shale gas industry. And despite huge local opposition, fracking firm Cuadrilla is determined to set up its rigs and drill.
In August 2014, twenty-or-so anti-fracking nanas occupied the same fields I’m in now – land just outside of Blackpool where Cuadrilla wants to drill – and established cake as an anti-fracking weapon of choice.
For three weeks, those Lancashire nanas, their children and grandchildren, camped out. And as people passed by they handed out free cake, tea and conversation in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of the fracking industry that they so strongly opposed. Since then groups like Preston New Road Action Group and Roseacre Against Frack have campaigned tirelessly too, pressuring the local council to block Cuadrilla’s bid to drill.
Their hard work paid off too. Because in June last year, Lancashire council leaders listened to the concerns of local people and said a resounding no to the shale gas industry.
But this victory was short lived. Just a few months later it was revealed that Greg Clark, the government’s so-called ‘minister for communities’, can now overrule local councils, which could pave the way for Cuadrilla and its rigs.
So today time we’ve returned – again armed with cake – to the site where Cuadrilla is desperate for the UK’s dash for shale gas to begin. But this time we’re doing a (yes, the dreaded c-word) celebrity bake off, with actress and former champion of Celebrity Master Chef Sophie Thompson, and me – Sophie’s sister.
We’re breaking Cuadrilla’s injunction – the special legal block they took out to protestors off their land – for our Frack Free Bake Off. No doubt there’ll be kitchen equipment and flour everywhere. But we’ll pack everything up carefully, taking care not leave behind any litter, drilling rigs, toxic fracking fluid or unwanted pollution.
And we promise that we won’t be releasing huge amounts of climate-warming methane into the atmosphere. That’s a promise that Cuadrilla – Britain’s biggest frackers – wouldn’t be able to make.
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