The fight against fracking - a first hand account
On 16 March, 200 people gathered from around the country for a ‘Jig at the Rig’ in support of local protestors resisting Cuadrilla’s fracking operations at Preston New Road. Organised by Reclaim the Power, the all-day shut down of the fracking site featured live music, poetry and a dance-off in the tracks of Lancashire’s drilling trucks, right outside the gate. The message? No to fracking, yes to local democracy and yes to a just transition to renewable energy. The demo came a fortnight before the launch of a three-month ‘United Resistance’ campaign against Cuadrilla, organised by Frack Free Lancashire.
Alex, a philosophy student, joined and performed at the demo.
Here he writes, in his own words, about what that experience was like.
"So here I am trying to put into words the energy and the passion that was the Jig at the Rig.
In the early hours of the morning, a convoy had managed to sneak into the site. Myself and a few others, most of whom had dedicated themselves to stay at the gate throughout the night, were there early. We’d managed to get ourselves onto the road and slow down the convoy, but the sheer number of police meant we were held back, some pressed into roadside bushes, some held down.
On that morning, they were many and we were few, but that soon changed. An hour or so later, the gates were blocked and people were digging ska punk rhythms as politicised lyrics cut the air. As the day went on, more and more people arrived. The numbers grew, the energy grew and soon everyone was jigging, dancing, chanting, discussing and planning, all the while Cuadrilla’s operation ground to a steady halt. The beauty of direct action is that when you really are the change in the world, when you really are the monkey wrench in the gears of the machine, people respond to it. It gives others the confidence that change can happen, for it’s right in front of their eyes, and with that confidence comes the momentum to take another bigger braver action.
I guess that’s what solidarity is. From the smallest Facebook message to the bravest lock-on, from every solitary placard to the biggest demonstration and so the movement grows. I had always believed in the power of direct action, but had never felt it or experienced it in the way that I and I'm sure many others did that day.
We weren't just standing up against Cuadrilla, we were standing up against the entire fossil fuel industry and the system that perpetuates the suffering and exploitation of both this planet and the people on it.
The sounds of change carried on long into the night, drums beaten, guitars strummed and songs sang. Our collective energy flowed like electricity. It was clear to everyone, including Cuadrilla, that there was plenty more to come. Until we win."
Reclaim the Power is a UK-based direct action network, fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. Their aim is to effectively confront environmentally destructive industries, and they’ve organised numerous protests at a wide variety of fossil fuel power stations. Since the introduction of exploratory fracking, they’ve consistently worked to support frontline communities in their fight against this new fossil fuel nightmare. To find out more, and for information on how to get involved, check out their facebook page.