Category Archives: Oil drilling

Europe supports Arctic Sanctuary

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There was good news this month when the European Parliament passed a resolution supporting the creation of an Arctic Sanctuary covering the vast high Arctic around the North Pole, giving official status to an idea that has been pushed for by Green activists and campaigners for several years.

The proposed sanctuary, lying outside of Exclusive Economic Zones, would cover “one of the largest and least exploited areas on Earth: a 2.8 million square kilometer zone of the global commons,” writes Neil Hamilton, the Senior Political Advisor Polar with Greenpeace Norway. “That would be the biggest conservation zone in existence, protecting fish stocks, ice-dependent species, and a huge variety of cold water species.”

Greenpeace has been campaigning for a global Arctic Sanctuary for several years, including gathering some 5 million signatures from around the world, because there has been rising interest from governments and industries to exploit the once inaccessible wilderness for fish and fossil fuels.

The resolution notes that “climate changes in the Arctic will have a major impact on coastal regions globally, including coastal regions in the European Union, and on climate-dependent sectors in Europe such as agriculture and fisheries, energy, reindeer herding, hunting, tourism and transport.”

In addition to supporting an Arctic Sanctuary, the European Parliament’s resolution would ban fisheries in the high Arctic seas “until the establishment of appropriate regulatory mechanisms and protection.” It also calls for “strict precautionary regulatory standards” when it comes to fossil fuel exploration and extraction in the region.

Last December, Gazprom become the first energy company to begin pumping oil out of the Arctic seabed. In response to this the European Parliament expressed “strong concern regarding the rush for oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic without adequate standards being enforced”.

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Green MP arrested in anti-fracking protest

Green MP Caroline Lucas is arrested near Balcombe during anti-fracking protest at Cuadrilla

Pic: The Guardian

The UK’s only Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas,  was among dozens of anti-fracking protesters arrested today as a “day of action” saw thousands of people take part in demonstrations at sites across the country.

Hundreds of activists blockaded the Balcombe oil drilling site in Sussex owned by Cuadrilla, as well as its Lichfield headquarters and the offices of its PR firm.

Demonstrators hung banners at the country home of the Conservative Lord Howells, who stirred controversy by suggesting the “desolate” north should be fracked and attempted to put up a small wind turbine at the home of Tory MP Francis Maude,  whose constituency includes Balcombe.

Protesters at Balcombe blocked part of the site road but were driven back by police. Lucas, who is the The MP for Brighton Pavilion, said she joined the protest to make up for the “democratic deficit” that was allowing corporate oil and gas interests to trump the concerns of ordinary people.

“Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come,” she said today.

“People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us. Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent.”

Thousands join march against fracking

Anti-fracking protests

Demonstrations in Balcombe today. Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA

Thousands of people marched through the Sussex countryside today in the biggest show of strength to date for the UK’s anti-fracking movement, the start of a three-day campaign against exploratory drilling near the village of Balcombe in west Sussex.

More than 2,000 supporters from around the country arrived in coaches and by train and filled “matchmaking” forms to on arrival, listing their preferences and skills in activities such as climbing, standing their ground, getting through or over fences, looking after people, providing entertainment or documenting the action.

Cuadrilla has in the past few days, after discussions with local police, halted drilling activities at the site and removed some equipment. The company has also urged protestors not to attempt anything that could compromise their own safety. The firm has partially drilled an exploratory oil well on the site and tests on the data obtained from drilling will help to determine whether the company presses on with its plans.

Protestor Liz Lyddon, from Brighton, said: “I am very concerned about climate change for our future generations. Fracking is not the direction we should be taking – there should be a huge investment in renewable green energy but there is no sign that any of our politicians are even thinking seriously about that.

“This shows that the opposition to fracking is growing.. and I do think that as people start to think about fracking they will begin to think about the wider issues around climate change and energy supply.”

The people vs fracking

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You’ve probably seen the headlines and TV reports. Fracking is big news as the picturesque village of Balcombe in West Sussex becomes the latest site for test drilling in the UK.

The drilling rig itself stands 78ft tall, according to the plans submitted to The Environment Agency. It also details a laboratory, canteen and a flare stack with a possible flame rising above the surrounding trees. All this for just 40 days and nights of exploratory drilling.

Cuadrilla’s licence is to look for oil and gas by conventional means, but the company has said they would apply for licences to use the chemical fracturing technique if the rock 2,000ft below fails to deliver.

Local residents are battling against the corporate giants who want to frack their community: “We in Balcombe feel bullied. Bullied by the oil and gas industry. Bullied by our government. We stand strong in the fight against this dangerous and misguided government policy,” said Kathryn McWhirter, No Fracking in Balcombe Society.”

Friends of the Earth is supporting them  by providing hands-on advice to the local community. Here’s how you can support the residents of Balcombe by sending them a message of support today and Friends of the Earth will take your messages of support down to the Balcombe residents later this week.

Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth said: “We have already helped strengthen the planning guidance for fracking and worked with directly affected communities in Lancashire. Together we can continue to delay the fracking industry and help move the UK to a clean energy future.”

Local residents are battling against the corporate giants who want to frack their community: “We in Balcombe feel bullied. Bullied by the oil and gas industry. Bullied by our government. We stand strong in the fight against this dangerous and misguided government policy” Kathryn McWhirter, No Fracking in Balcombe Society.”

Friends of the Earth is supporting them  by providing hands-on advice to the local community. Here’s how you can support the residents of Balcombe by sending them a message of support today and Friends of the Earth will take your messages of support down to the Balcombe residents later this week.

Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth said: “We have already helped strengthen the planning guidance for fracking and worked with directly affected communities in Lancashire. Together we can continue to delay the fracking industry and help move the UK to a clean energy future.”