The leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett arrived at Upton protection camp to show her support for the anti fracking campaigners who have been on the site since April 2014. The camp have been serviced an eviction notice with IGAS planning exploratory drilling on the site.
Natalie thanked residents of the camp for their campaign against fracking. “I wanted to come here today to show my support. The fact is , we know that fracking is the wrong thing for Britain, it’s the wrong thing in terms of, we know we have to leave at least two thirds of our known fossil fuels in the ground if we’re to avoid catastrophic climate change. Going looking for more fossil fuels is absolutely the wrong direction”
She rejected industry claims that fracking would have stronger regulation in the UK. “Its a cowboy industry, it operates in America with virtually no rules and they’re bringing that technology, that culture here to Britain” Her speech was interrupted by an anti police protester wearing a pig mask labelled “Gimp” which caused some amusement.
She said that fracking distracted from the pursuit of renewable energy.. “How often have you heard George Osborne and David Cameron talking about conservation, probably never! They’ve got a fracking fantasy, that this will be some kind of energy future for Britain. I’ve spoken to lots of people from the industry and none of them believe fracking is a significant part of Britain’s energy future… ”
She championed the work of the camp and the “tough times” they were facing after being on site for 18 months. “However you contribute that’s going to be appreciated by the community here, by the people of Britain. You’re the people on the right side, on the side of history” she claimed. Figures from a survey conducted by Frack Free Upton state that 85% of residents oppose the test drilling.
“I think people here, dont really want to be here, they’re here for the reason of protecting the environment and their community. The license to frack here, runs out next May. They would be happy to hand the land back to the farmer in May when there’s no longer any risk of fracking.” Asked if the camp residents should resist eviction she said that “in the Green party we understand that non violent direct action is sometimes necessary .When the other mechanisms fail, we need to take action, and people historically, throughout history have taken action..” She referenced Caroline Lucas MP who was arrested and then released at the anti fracking camp in Balcombe. December 4th. She said that while Chester “wasn’t an obvious place for eco warriors” she was proud of the work done at the camp and the raising of awareness of the issue. When asked why the Green party didn’t stand a candidate for the general election in Chester she replied that it was a local party decision.
One camp resident who didn’t wish to be named said that the issue wasn’t about the camp.. “We don’t really want to be here in a muddy field, but its important to be here to stop the fracking. We want people to come here, not to support us being on the camp, but to resist IGAS. There’s two schools really close by…. what’s really concerning is the kind of activities that take place after we’ve left. We’ve had lots of information from people in Australia and America where the fracking industry has been in existence for about 15 years, hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled, and the air pollution is horrific.” He said that fracking had led to deaths of cattle and health problems in humans. Asked if he would resist he said “We’ll have to see what happens on the day really”