Wherever the fracking companies have set up drilling sites, people from nearby towns and villages have stood shoulder to shoulder in protest. Together with other groups and organisations, they frustrated attempts to extract gas and oil from beneath the British countryside.
Concerns about the climate emergency and the impact on local communities drove people to stand in the way of the fracker – often literally. Now the government has brought fracking operations in England to a halt (joining Scotland and Wales in an effective ban), it’s time to celebrate the most outstanding moments from a long and brilliant protest.
That time a quiet village made a lot of noise
In 2013, fracking company Cuadrilla set up shop in the Sussex village of Balcombe. Local residents were not happy. Together with activist group Reclaim the Power, they spent weeks and months getting in Cuadrilla’s way and making headlines. The Balcombe protests helped catapult fracking up the national agenda.
That time a fracking site was blocked for a whole month
Hundreds of people took part in a month-long protest – the Rolling Resistance – outside Cuadrilla’s site in Lancashire. In the face of strong pressure from the police, vehicles in and out of the site were blocked in a variety of creative ways.
That time Emma Thompson baked a cake in a field
Emma Thompson and sister Sophie competed in a special frack-free Bake Off on the site of Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site in Lancashire. Despite an unfortunate incident with a muck spreader, the Bake Off was a success. And the winner? You’ll have to watch to find out.
That time three activists were sent to prison (but later released)
Cuadrilla’s trucks were immobilised when three men climbed on top of the cabs. For about three days and nights, they stayed put. They became the first environmental protesters to receive prison sentences since the 1930s, although fortunately they were released on appeal a few weeks later.
Those times fracking rigs popped up in unexpected places
Ex-prime minister David Cameron was a big fan of fracking. So it was only fair he should get a taste of what a drilling site next to his constituency home would be like. And MPs got to see a fracking site up-close when one appeared outside the Houses of Parliament.
All those dedicated nanas
The fracking protests involved people of all ages and one group became a movement in their own right. The anti-fracking nanas of Lancashire were on hand to explain why fracking is senseless, and to stage a calm, peaceful protest in front of Cuadrilla’s gates every Wednesday morning.