Frack Free Five Valleys formed to raise awareness of the threat of unconventional gas exploration (fracking, coal bed methane, and underground coal gasification) in the area surrounding Stroud. December 2013 saw the Government release a draft report proposing around 60% of the UK for fracking and coal bed methane gasfield development. This area includes the whole of the Cotswolds. Despite the surface rock here being the famously beautiful golden Cotswold limestone, we sit on top of a deeper layer of shale rock which stretches right across the country from South Wales and Somerset to the North east coast of the UK. Peer reviewed science from the University of Colorado, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Missouri and Duke University associate fracking and associated processes with serious damage to the health of humans and animals including cancers and mutations.
Industry statistics show 6% of wells to leak immediately and 50% within 15 years. To frack for gas on a production level requires the creation of extensive gasfields with 6-10 wells per square mile. For Stroud, this would mean the wholesale industrialisation of our healthy, beautiful, fertile countryside with a network of wells, pipelines, access roads, compressor stations, toxic gas flaring and high volume industrial truck traffic transporting chemicals, water and chemically laden low level radioactive waste water down our country lanes.
We reject the government and industry’s radical and reckless plan to turn our beautiful healthy landscapes and food growing area into unconventional gasfields. Our rejection of this invasive, dangerous industry will be non-violent, but non-negotiable.
As you may recall from last summer, the people of Balcombe, an affluent area of outstanding Natural Beauty in West Sussex, who never expected to find themselves in a showdown with the unconventional gas industry, have temporarily halted the first frack well in the South due to community action supported by effective non-violent but non-negotiable action to protect their community. Currently, Barton Moss on the edge of Manchester is blocking access to Igas’s plans for fracking in their community. They need all the help they can get. See http://www.northerngasgala.org.uk for details. These places are the frontline of a huge battle for a healthy future for land and people, and indeed for communities being able to determine their own futures rather than having recklessly dangerous projects forced upon them.
A number of Villages in Sussex now face applications for fracking. However, we are seeing in the instance of Fernhurst, the community, parish council and estate holder uniting in their absolute rejection of this industry. In Australia over 120 communities and counting have declared themselves gasfield free, effectively withdrawing any perceived social licence for this industry. In Balcombe villagers surveyed themselves and 85% of the village wished to declare the village gasfield free. Only 6% were pro. While our government is intent upon pushing a desperate ‘dash for gas’ into our communities we stand with all threatened communities across the UK in giving no Social Licence to invasive gas mining in the UK.