Campaigners call for fracking charges to be dropped

Quakers highlight a government document suggesting it could allow fracking to continue despite ban

As hundreds of supporters signed a petition demanding that charges against anti-frackers should be dropped, Quakers highlighted a government document which suggested it could allow fracking to continue despite the highly publicised ban.

Posting on its Quaker Faith in Action Facebook page, Quaker Peace & Social Witness said: ‘Whilst the government claims to be responding to the public’s growing concern over our climate crisis, it appears they are quietly still prepared to consider fracking applications.’

The message referred to news that the civil service issued a document about shale gas exploration which states that ‘future applications will be considered on their own merits’ despite the supposed ban. 

According to the document, which was issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) on 4 November in response to a consultation on shale gas exploration, ‘there could be considerable merit’ in relaxing planning laws so local councils could not block attempts to drill for shale gas.

Green campaigners jumped on the news as proof that fracking applications could still be allowed. However, the government insisted that the fracking ban was still in place.

Meanwhile the online petition ‘Revoke all charges against anti-fracking protests and apologise’ on the 38 Degrees website has accumulated more than 1,650 signatures out of a possible 2,000. The petition was started by anti-fracking campaigner Tina Louise Rothery, who went on trial this month with eleven other protestors for her anti-fracking ‘Caravan of Love’ protest in May 2018. The eco-activist, who has spoken at Liverpool Meeting House about halting Cuadrilla’s attempt to drill for shale gas, tweeted: ‘Our solicitor approached CPS to query if still in public interest… sadly and I believe wrongly, they said yes. We are not and never have been criminals.’

The campaign says: ‘For nearly a decade residents throughout UK campaigned against fracking. The government promoted, encouraged, financed and marketed a “Dash for Gas” based on inadequate research that meant our communities were vulnerable to harm… then treated as criminals when we objected.’ The petition calls for all charges to be overturned, adding: ‘Our bodies were harmed by police during peaceful protest; arrests, fines, jail time and criminal records followed.’

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