Mon 18th Aug
Anti-fracking campaigners from Salford have hung a banner from a bridge at Salford Media City as part of a day of action by Reclaim the Power. The banner states that 884,000 gallons of radioactive fracking water has been dumped into the Manchester Ship Canal.
It was revealed earlier this year following two years of campaigning by Lancashire campaigners to know where it had gone. The company pumped 2.7 million gallons of clean water into its only full scale fracking well in the country. Initially the company had been sending the radioactive water to a treatment plant in Davey Hulme, Manchester, but it was unable to cope with the volume, toxicity and levels of radiation.
Local campaigner Louise Carr said “The Environment Agency allowed United Utilities to dilute the water and put it into our canal. 884,000 gallons of radioactive and toxic water from just one fracking operation, which was cut short because the company caused two earthquakes in the space of six weeks”.
Day 61 – Sun 26th January
Solidarity Sunday saw around 800 anti-fracking campaigners from across the country flock to Barton Moss. They joined locals and protectors based at the camp, while others sent messages of solidarity from as far away as Afghanistan.
A march left the Salford City stadium and worked its way towards the camp as the rainy weather thankfully eased up. There were various environmental and anti-fracking groups present as well as concerned individuals and families. They all made the journey with banners, chants and smiles, making for a peaceful and pleasant demonstration.
Unfortunately reports have just come in from the camp though of a violent arrest by the police ruining what has been an inspiring and peaceful day, with the use of unnecessary force.
See Salford Star coverage here.
See ITV Granada coverage here (link coming soon)
Our response to the Telegraph article
On Sunday 22nd December 2013, an article written by ‘journalist’ Patrick Sawer was published on the Telegraph online. It seems to us that the article, which was full of lies was a clear attempt to discredit our local campaign whilst slurring the name of two amazing individuals who are very passionate about protecting the environment.
The Telegraph and Patrick Sawer obviously underestimated how passionate the people of Greater Manchester and indeed, all over the country are about this campaign. If they thought we would let them get away with it, they have another thing coming. Below is our official complaint to the Press Complaint Commission. Please feel free to report them yourselves email@example.com or write to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph firstname.lastname@example.org
Frack Free Greater Manchester complaint to Press Complaints Commission
Dear Press Complaints Commission,
I am writing to you on behalf of Frack Free Greater Manchester with regards to an article in the Telegraph on 21st by Patrick Sawer ‘Fracking protests head north as activists mass on proposed Manchester shale gas exploration sites’ which contains statements which are factually incorrect and other facts which are presented so that they are likely to mislead the reader.
“Gathered under the banner of Frack Free Greater Manchester, militant activists last week pledged to do everything they could to disrupt the search for new sources of energy.”
The blockades of the IGas drilling site on Barton Moss were not carried out by Frack Free Greater Manchester nor did they purport to be. The wind turbine blockade on Monday 16th December was carried out by a group inspired by Reclaim the Power who answered an invite from FFGM to all groups and individuals around the country.
The article itself highlights this with a quote from Miss Aneaka Kellay “We want to show solidarity with the local community; to blockade the site, even if only temporarily, and to inspire others who might be tempted to take creative direct action.” As this quote was taken from a press release which made this distinction clear, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the author of the Telegraph article deliberately set out to mislead the reader.
Our community is standing up to rich, powerful, multinational corporations who enjoy the support of the government. It is because of this that people who do live in Greater Manchester set up the ‘Northern Gas Gala’ to invite groups and individuals to come and support us in our struggle against Igas. The article completely fails to supply this context, and again it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is the result of a deliberate attempt to create a false impression in the mind of the reader.
Another example of this is the use of the word ‘militant’, which is not a descriptive word, and does not in any way define the actions of people at this site or those involved with the group No Dash for Gas, instead it just simply creates a negative impression when other, more informative language, could have been chosen.
“But The Telegraph can reveal that the leading campaigners against “fracking” in the North West have no connection to the area.”
This statement, and therefore the whole premise of the article is factually incorrect. Frack Free Greater Manchester was set up in September of this year at an open, public meeting in Eccles, Salford which was attended by people from all over Greater Manchester. We do not have ‘leading campaigners’ as we are a collective group of individuals which organises horizontally.
In fact, only one of the two individuals picked out by the article, Aneaka Kellay, is a member of Frack Free Greater Manchester. Contrary to what is stated I the article Aneaka has not recently moved to Manchester, but has lived here for over three years. Ewa Jasewicz, the other individual mentioned who is a member of No Dash for Gas does have links to Manchester as she lived and worked here for a number of years.
“Timothy Williams, 58, of Sussex; Alexandra Hart, 41, of Frome, Somerset; Hytham Chlouk, 23, of Caterham, Surrey, and Ian Tushingham, 47, from Wigan, Lancashire, were charged with obstructing the highway. HedarAbid, 24, of Caterham, Surrey, was charged with obstructing police.”
This is a selective quoting of the arrests that have been made at Barton Moss and misleads the reader into thinking that all arrests in relation to our campaign are people from outside of the area. Many local residents have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police not only at the site but with raids on their homes in the early hours of the morning. This important contextual information is not included in the article, presumably because it would undermine what is in fact an attempt to smear individuals and the campaign.
Frack Free Greater Manchester and our lawyer, Simon Pook of Robert Lizars solicitors will be putting in a complaint to Independent Police Complaints Commission about the arrests that have been made at Barton Moss and the conduct of Greater Manchester Police following them which includes: refusing people their requested lawyers, misleading individuals into believing that their lawyer is on the phone when in fact it is a duty solicitor and unfair bail conditions which are continuously over turned by the court. One might have thought that this might be considered more newsworthy, but none of this information is included in the article.
“Last night, one local MP described their protests as “bandwagon jumping”, and said that he had seen very little sign of opposition to fracking from people living in the area.”
Andrew Miller, the Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, which is not in Greater Manchester, is not a local MP. Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South whose constituency includes the Barton Moss site has made it clear she will oppose proposed plans to frack at Barton Moss. http://www.barbarakeeley.co.uk/barbara-will-oppose-proposals-for-fracking-in-irlam
“The protests are in the name of Frack Free Greater Manchester and No Dash for Gas and claim to have the active support of a large number of ordinary local residents at protests and camps set up against drilling sites.”
The protests do enjoy the support of ordinary local residents. Three public meetings have been held between October and November 2013, each was well attended by residents local to the site. Further proof of the scale of local opposition would have been provided by a visit to the Community Protection Camp based opposite the drilling site, and conversations with local residents who visit and show their support on a daily basis, however the author of the article appears to have failed to have undertaken even basic investigative work to see whether the central premise of their article is, in fact, correct.
“In October, Miss Jasiewicz’s No Dash for Gas group organised a meeting of environmental activists held at the University of Manchester Student Union called “From Balcombe to Lancashire: Anti-Fracking Skillshare”. It was designed to enable militants in the environmental movement to swap strategies for the best way to cripple the energy industry’s search for shale gas and oil.”
The “From Balcombe to Lancashire: Anti-Fracking Skillshare” was organised by people in Manchester (not No Dash for Gas) who wanted to share knowledge with people involved in the anti-fracking campaign in Balcombe and other places in the country. Its aim was to unite communities from around the country who are having fracking forced upon them by said shale gas and oil industry. The attempt to portray this as somehow sinister once again shows the apparent desire of the author to portray a legitimate local campaign in the worst possible light with no regard for the actual facts of the matter.
It is possible that this article is simply sloppy journalism, but taking the number of inaccuracies together with the overall tone, the only reasonable conclusion is that the article is a deliberate attempt to discredit our campaign and smear individuals. I call upon the Press Complaints Commissioner to investigate this article as a breach of the Code of Editors. As the entire premise of the article is incorrect, it should be withdrawn and a full written and published apology is made to Frack Free Greater Manchester and the individuals who have had their names slurred in this article.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Frack Free Greater Manchester
Other responses to the Telegraph article:
“This is what it looks like when the Fracking industry know they can’t win the argument” – In My Humble, Etc
No Dash for Gas response to Patrick Sawer Telegraph piece
Day 20: Mon 16th December
Santa’s little helpers delivered a special Gift to IGas today – a 54 foot wind turbine blockading the site entrance at Barton Moss.
Fracking test site in Greater Manchester blockaded with giant wind turbine blade
Fifty pro-renewables campaigners deliver 17 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade as “Christmas gift” for fracking company IGas
Entrance to Barton Moss test site blocked, to prevent drilling vehicles from entering
Contact: 07821 315 254 (Frack Free Greater Manchester Press)
At 5.30 this morning (Monday 16th December 2013), fifty people blocked the entrance to IGas’s exploratory drilling site in Barton Moss with a giant wind turbine blade. The campaigners arrived at the site in Salford in Greater Manchester, proceeded to unload and assemble the 17-metre blade from its three component segments. They were spotted by a security guard who called the police, but the officers who arrived on the scene were too late to prevent the blockade from being set up.
The campaigners then left, leaving the heavy wind turbine blade in place across the entrance, complete with a large red Christmas bow. Currently all vehicle access the site is being severly disrupted by the 1.5-tonne blade, which cannot be moved without large numbers of people or specialist equipment.
VIDEO: Santa’s helpers deliver to Wind Turbine to iGas
IGas have obtained permission to drill a 3000 metre (10000 foot) test well at Barton Moss, in the hope of extracting both coal bed methane and shale gas. If the tests prove successful, IGas would then be likely to use the controversial extraction method of horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to blast gas out of the ground. In the US, where fracking has been underway for several years, the practice has been linked to water contamination, air pollution, and risks to local water supplies, with over 1000 leaks and spills reported in one year in North Dakota alone . If fracking were to spread across the UK, it would lead to the extraction of large amounts of oil and gas that would otherwise have remained in the ground, with serious consequences for the climate .
Guardian article here
Manchester Evening News article here
The fracking industry itself has admitted that the practice is unlikely to bring down energy bills, and economist Nicholas Stern has accused the Government of “baseless economics” for claiming otherwise. Meanwhile, the Government’s own Committee on Climate Change has released a report showing that a shift away from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency could save the UK public £85 billion per year.
Following a summer of high-profile anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in West Sussex, which ended when the drilling company Cuadrilla withdrew its fracking application, Barton Moss is now widely seen as the new frontline in the battle for clean energy in the UK , and in November 2013 a “Barton Moss Protection Camp” was set up at the site. Actions are frequently launched from the camp to disrupt drilling activities at the site, and at least ten people, including local residents, have been arrested in the last few weeks. This year’s anti-fracking protests seem to have shifted public opinion; according to national polling by the University of Nottingham, support for fracking dropped significantly after the summer protests at Balcombe.
Today’s action was carried out by a group of people from all over the UK who had been inspired by the Reclaim The Power protest camp at Balcombe earlier this year. Sandra Denton, who was one of the people who put the blade in place, said: “We’ve delivered this early Christmas gift to IGas to remind them that we don’t need damaging, risky and polluting energy sources like oil and gas to power the UK. The Government and the big energy companies are planning to build a new wave of gas-fired power stations, partly fed by thousands of fracking wells across the British countryside. This would lock us into using this expensive and dirty fossil fuel for decades to come, trapping us in a future of spiralling energy prices and disastrous floods, storms and droughts as climate change kicks in. Meanwhile, a shift to properly insulated homes powered by clean, community-owned or publicly-controlled renewable energy would rescue millions from fuel poverty, prevent thousands of winter deaths and give us all a decent chance at avoiding runaway climate change.”
Rachel Thompson of Frack Free Greater Manchester, a separate local group who are campaigning against fracking in the area, said: “The Government’s plan to increase our reliance on gas – including fracked gas – would lead to higher energy bills and more pollution. The only reason they’re going down this path is because of the power and influence of the big energy companies. The Big Six can make far bigger profits from fossil fuels than from clean energy or home insulation schemes, which is why they’re using their cosy relationship with Government to block renewable alternatives and keep us all burning their expensive gas. That’s why we all need to stand up for a fairer, cleaner, more democratic energy system without the Big Six profiteers in charge.”
Pearl Hopkins, a local resident, said, “I didn’t know today’s action was going to happen but I’m very glad it did. It’s great that people are coming from all over the country to support us at Barton Moss – and with creative blockades like this one. Local people have tried using all the official channels to object to this scheme, but the Council and IGas seem determined to brush our concerns under the carpet and carry on regardless. We’d like renewable energy for the future – not the destruction of our towns and countryside with thousands of drill sites.”
Notes for Editors
 The International Energy Agency has calculated that we need to leave two thirds of known conventional fossil fuels in the ground to have even a 50% chance of avoiding runaway climate change. This calculation doesn’t include unconventional fossil fuel sources like shale gas and coal bed methane, which means we can’t really afford to burn these forms of fuel at all. See Page 11 of http://newint.org/blog/the_fracking_files.pdf