Fracking protesters threaten our economic future


We heard an awful lot about the recent protests around the proposed drilling in Balcombe Sussex (even though the operators were not proposing to frack).  But we’ve heard very little of similar events in Salford, Manchester, where I-Gas are drilling. 

There is certainly local concern, whipped up by hard-core, anti-industry, anti-capitalist protesters, some of them apparently moved up from Balcombe.  When you read the black propaganda put out by these people, you can hardly blame local residents for their fears.  It’s time to get the truth out there: that fracking has been going on for many decades, without significant problems, that it’s safe, and that in America it has had a dramatically positive effect on jobs, prosperity, tax revenues, balance of payments.

I was in MansfieldPennsylvania recently, where the town has been transformed by shale gas. House prices are going up, as the new industry brings people and money and new businesses into the area.

These protesters are causing huge problems in Salford for I-Gas and their subcontractors.  It is taking up to four hours to get trucks down the short access road to the site, as the protesters march, and sing, and wave banners and placards in front of vehicles.

There has been a large police presence devoted to keeping the peace and preventing violent confrontations, but they seem to be doing very little to ensure the right of unimpeded access to workers going about their legitimate business.  I’m told that the police draw attention to the Human Rights Act, and in particular the right to protest and demonstrate.  We all support that right.  But it doesn’t include the right to obstruct the highway.

There is an argument that as the protesters are milling about and not (for example) sitting in the road, they are not strictly “obstructing” the highway, but simply exercising their right to protest.  But this is mere semantics.  If the truck can’t drive down the road at a reasonable speed, then the road is being obstructed.  The police should ask the protesters to make way, and if they fail to do so, should remove them.

The policing operation is reportedly costing £40,000 a day (and the company has been obliged to spend £150,000 on a protester-proof fence).  The police have recently decided (perhaps reasonably) that they can no longer afford this cost, and have said they’ll provide their services only one day a week — so all truck traffic will have to come that day.  Better than no access at all, but this imposes huge logistical constraints and costs on the operators — just as the protesters want.

It gets worse.  The agitators at Salford seem to have taken a page out of the extreme animal rights playbook.  Executives of companies involved, and even some workers, have received threatening and intimidating phone calls.  “We have your address.  We know where your wife and your children are, and their schools”.  In several cases there have been direct death threats.  The police have taken these threats seriously, and offered security advice.  But so far as I know, no arrests have been made.

The protesters want to make exploratory drilling so difficult, threatening and expensive that the operators will give up and go away.  They want to prevent investment in the industry.  And unless the government gets serious about it, there’s a real risk they’ll succeed.  These ideologically-committed radicals are not so much campaigning against fracking as against jobs, investment and growth; against secure and affordable energy.  They are campaigning for poverty and blackouts, and against economic recovery.

We should be thankful for small mercies.  Cameron and Osborne speak out very clearly about the importance of the shale gas opportunity for our economy.  But talking isn’t enough.  Cameron should be telling the Home Secretary that a vital national interest is at stake here.  The police must clear the way for the work to proceed, and the ringleaders amongst the protesters must be physically removed, given court orders requiring them to stay away from shale gas sites, and if necessary detained until the work is complete.  The other part of the solution (and it is necessary in economic terms anyway) is to have dozens of drilling sites on the go at once.  I suspect the hard core of protesters are simply too few to disrupt more than a coupe of sites at once.

The agitators are calling for “Frack Free Manchester”.  If they’re successful, it may well be Jobs-Free Manchester and Electricity-Free Manchester as well.

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31 Responses to Fracking protesters threaten our economic future

  1. Can the industry not simply get a comparative Environmental Impact Assessment for fracking and coal mining? T
    hat should put it into context once and for all?

  2. David says:

    The greenies always behave in the blackest way.

  3. David says:

    How do they get the free time to protest so much, (no job) oh I forgot, the benefits generated by capitalism.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Bill them directly for obstruction….not us because we live here.

  5. Richard111 says:

    Somebody is paying those people to be there every day. Who and why?

  6. Chris says:

    As Roger says, issue the ring leaders with court orders forcing them to stay away from the fracking sites. Putin has the right method for dealing with eco loons such as Greenpeace.

  7. Chris says:

    How do these protesters afford to live? Do they work for a living, or are they on benefits? Are they supported by organisations such as Greenpeace? Or foreign governments such as Russia or the Middle East?

  8. Charles Wardrop says:

    They seem to have irrational fears and even hatreds motivating them, rather like Liberal (non)Democrats along with some in the “Tory” Parliamentary Party.
    As you say, these wreckers might not manage to infest several sites at once, since even “Rentacrowd” has limited resources in people-fodder, if not in foreign money, as suggested above.
    Our problems with them are partly due to insufficient will and force in our dopey and evil politicos, despite their willingness to send our troops and resources to perpetrate killing, often indiscriminate, out East.

  9. David says:

    Maybe “tone” the great persuader could have a word with them.

  10. David says:

    From all I have read fracking does not seem high risk to me.

  11. catalanbrian says:

    A wonderful selection of the usual right wing conspiracy theories are listed above. What is it about you Ukippers that makes you believe that the whole world is conspiring to get you? As I have said in other places I am not against fracking per se, although it has to be done responsibly, and any disruption to people’s lives should be properly compensated. Further we should bear in mind that the gas obtained from fracking is a fossil fuel that produces CO2 and is finite, like all other fossil fuels, so it is not a fix it for ever solution to energy needs

    • David says:

      Ive read all posts, where is “the world is out to get us” stuff Brian?

      • catalanbrian says:

        Here is one of the many “They seem to have irrational fears and even hatreds motivating them, rather like Liberal (non)Democrats along with some in the “Tory” Parliamentary Party.
        As you say, these wreckers might not manage to infest several sites at once, since even “Rentacrowd” has limited resources in people-fodder, if not in foreign money, as suggested above.
        Our problems with them are partly due to insufficient will and force in our dopey and evil politicos, despite their willingness to send our troops and resources to perpetrate killing, often indiscriminate, out East.” as posted by Charles Wardrop. I wilol not bother with the rest/

    • Alan Bailey says:

      Surely it would give a breathing space while we try to develop nuclear fusion?

    • Richard111 says:

      Maybe some study will help. Look up ocean floor sediment. You will find it contains a lot of ‘carbon’ deposited by creatures RECENTLY dead. Time from mid-ocean ridges to continental subduction zones is about 2 million years. This is not long in geological time scales. That ‘carbon’ ends up under the asthenosphere and can be vented up through volcanoes as CO2 gas. Most stays down and is converted to gas and oil. The world will NEVER run out of ‘fossil’ fuel until all life is dead. It is a natural cycle with time scales longer than the span of humanity. By the way, just THREE volcanic eruptions in recent times vented, in total, more CO2 into the atmosphere than man has released into the atmosphere throughout history. Life on the land and in the oceans absorbed all that ‘excess’ CO2 without complaint.

  12. Neil craig says:

    If they are not “obstructing the highway” I would assume that no driver who drive down the highway over the bodies of a number of them could be committing an offence because the police had told them there was nobody getting in his route.

    When comparing thugs who threaten the lives of wives and children with the Nazis who picketed Jewish shops but did not (sometimes) obstruct the highway the must admit that the Nazis benefit by the comparison. Of course they also benefit from comparing the number of people they killed with the far greater number killed by the Greens.

    I would have a slight amount of respect for Brian’s honesty if when saying “any disruption to people’s lives should be properly compensated” he had included the disruption caused by these econazis. I would have thought it possible he, and his government paymasters, might be 0.001% honest had he raised any slightest objection to the disruption caused by these scum.

    No offence brian

  13. Charles Wardrop says:

    If “catalanbrian” didn’t exist, he’d have to be invented, so maybe he’s Roger Helmer’s devil’s advocate, in reality!

  14. David says:

    Well I certainly dont feel the whole world or even small sections are out to get me Brian.

  15. Alan Bailey says:

    If Cameron had the balls of Maggie Thatcher he would order the police to do what they did to the miners’ when they were being disruptive. – BUT HE WON’T!

  16. DICK R says:

    These people are the CND of the day, useful idiots .

    • Charles Wardrop says:

      There was a lot to be said for CND, as for conscienscious objectors, e.g., Quakers, in world wars.
      Not all “useful idiots”, though one knows what you mean.

  17. Bryan Tomlinson says:

    Why give the anti frackers so much grief ?
    We’ll be clapping them when they protest against HS2 and Heathrow 3rd and 4th Runways.
    From one of thousands of Heathrow Villages residents that will welcome environmental protesters fighting against corporate greed and Establishment political and moral corruption.
    Heathrow Villages UKIP.

  18. glen tucker says:

    I’m a UKIP supporter because we believe in democracy, but you can’t have your cake and eat it. If people don’t want Fracking, even if UKIP top brass want it, then you have to accept that democracy is about what people want, and many many people don’t want Fracking. Don’t smear your voters just because they don’t agree with you.
    It might be well to consider if there isn’t some possibility to find common ground with the Green Party, because many of their supporters are very active change agents, exactly what we need to add to our supporters.
    From the numbers, if we could find common ground, we would easily win parliamentary seats in some of the rural areas.
    Maybe we need a bit more strategy and less rhetoric

  19. scarlettkitsune says:

    Wow… just wow… You only have to look as far as the various towns that banned fracking in the US (including the town where it was invented) to realise why it is such a terrible thing to have near your home or under your land. Contaminated ground water, toxic chemicals venting from the ground making people sick, making land unworkable and unsellable… It is not acceptable to disregard the health of UK citizens for what is ultimately a profit making venture. After the most recent amendments to the bill, it has become downright undemocratic. Farmers just lost the right to know their land is being fracked. That is a parliamentary disgrace.

    I’m fairly certain from reading the comments here that many of your UKIP supporters do not want fracking for the same reasons as many people regardless of their party affiliation. But as with many Tory MPs, I imagine you have investments in the fracking industry and are perhaps thinking more about lining your own pockets than with the well-being of your constituents.

  20. rogeroffice says:

    Sorry, but you’re just repeating green propaganda. I have been to two major shale gas areas in the USA, and it just isn’t true that these problems occur. There have been a few minor incidents (as there would be with any energy extraction business) and they have been blown out of all proportion.

    And No. I don’t have any investments in the energy field. You are precisely and diametrically wrong. I am thinking about the pockets — and the prosperity — of my constituents, and of our country. I have no personal financial interest, beyond a general interest in our country’s prosperity.

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