Day 20 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people witnessed NO truck arrivals at all due to an all-day feat of endurance by 4 visiting Protectors who locked together at the site entrance around 7:30am and were not removed till after 4pm. A heck of a demand on them physically that did what they intended, prevented all deliveries – we were astounded then to see 5 Armstrongs trucks parked to leave (unable to do so for some time due to lock-on). According to residents, these arrived at 6:50am, more on that later. Due to the action the area was by early afternoon, under a ‘Section 14’ order from the police which seemed essentially to limit the number of people on the lock-on side of the street; the atmosphere was fuelled at points to boiling with intense policing, lots of shouting and new scenes constantly unfolding amidst a kaleidoscopic array of Protectors, of all persuasions in all sorts of positions.
So there is no ‘usual’ in the world of activism/campaigning, I have never dealt with more varied challenges in any other role or place in my life; not all good or all bad, just a fact of this. Surprises are frequent, new situations inevitable and thinking on your feet, the best you can hope for. That we all think very differently and have different feet – adds to the sense of chaos too that comes with all this. Of course there are differences of perspective as well and to know more of today, you can watch hosts of videos, read tons of posts and view thousands of images but to get a true view – the only way really is to live it as you. My *perspective here on the blog is mine alone….
*Other perspectives are available 😉
The Protectors who locked on this morning, stopped the fracking industry from progressing another day and for that there is huge gratitude from all who want this industry halted. For years, people have locked-on, slow-walked and occupied in order to achieve delays like today and the cumulative effect is that this industry comes with an ugly reputation for bringing trouble, is starved of income, weighed down with costs and… looks less attractive to investors. We’ve been amazing as a movement at holding this back.
Our government though has muscled further in now and overthrown our democracy in its eagerness; it‘s determined to get fracking underway and PNR is the first site with planning approval (exclusively by Westminster) for a production site (as opposed to other test sites) that is underway. Things have changed and we as activists/campaigners/Protectors, know that the clock is ticking – delaying is no longer enough and nor are we. There are a lot of licenses in the UK and combined with government might, this year will stretch us if we don’t find additional ways and more people, willing and able to get involved. Direct actions to delay, now need to morph into actions that stop this industry completely – and to do that, we need to make these actions accessible to a lot more people in every community so that if the threat comes, we don’t have to ‘call the Protectors’ – because there won’t be enough right now to go round.
Since the first few days of being at PNR and seeing how many residents took the step into this world of activism, I have felt so honoured to stand beside them and concerned too because I know how much this means their lives will dramatically change. Nothing is the same once you know a truth like this because at no point, no matter how hard the task we face, can you give up. go home and forget about it. This is not a fad, a lifestyle choice or a temporary thing – this is a threat to our lives and the lives of our children. We’re stuck. We’re all stuck with the same stuff of obligation, responsibility and honour. Lives in turmoil, spare time no longer ‘spare’ but instead set aside for action to stop fracking. Ridiculous hours online learning, sharing, getting to know the shape of the threat and ourselves as the thing that stands as the only thing to stop it.
Take the lady this morning who witnessed the early deliveries. She’s discovered her deep rage; a rage that will force her into further activism because she knows, she’s being lied to, she has no say in her democracy and that the health and wellbeing of her family are worth less to this government, than shareholder profit for Cuadrilla. She alerted:
“Well. I have my phone call to my husband asking him to tweet on my account about the lorries and that was 06.58. I then saw a truck from Maple Farm and told them to let the people there know that the lorries we there. There was nobody there. They got 3 of the 5 straight onto the field and two others waited and the traffic was stopped both ways. How could the 3 have driven straight in?? Liars. I’m more than happy to give my evidence. But Armstrongs will have journey and time logs….required by law (and the VAT Man). They had to swing wide to form the end of the queue into the field as they were right on top of the entrance before they stopped”.
A country of angry, enabled residents… now that’s a picture of power in our communities lol. Not all our residents are able to lock-on though some are amazingly good by virtue of age and ability to slow-walk. Not all our residents are able to risk arrest but they are fabulous at winning the hearts and minds of others who are new and gently ease them into the sheer drop of activism. We are many but those who can do what was done today – are few. There are other ways we need to create so we can grow and succeed.
Some wear their strength of conviction and determination on the outside… for others, though less visible… it is there smoldering just as deep. I did a check of those at the roadside who gather most days and are here every ‘spare’ moment… I asked what they would do if the drill came and was going to start? “I’ll be under it” was the reply from every person there. Just because there are smiles, cake, music and friendliness – doesn’t mean there isn’t intent… just that between now and lying down under the drill, we are pulling in our community to enhance our movement with their bodies and more importantly, their valued input because we need all we can get to draw a line in the sand and stop an entire industry.
There are too many sad and angry moments at the roadside of PNR – but they aren’t strong and so easily fall away with the warm hug of a new arrival, Dawn and her kids passing in the car doing “Roar like a Dinosaur!!” shouts daily, fresh cookies through car windows, the shout of ‘Good Job!’ when I thought he’d said ‘getta job’, the giggle of a gaggle of us as a police driving instructor started a manoeuvre on this single lane, body-filled, police-packed zone – we heard a nearby policeman say “Guess he didn’t get the memo”… and the power of the genuine laughter and warmth that we are bathed in between those (feeble) sad and angry moments. See you tomorrow?
*Highlight humour of the day when a lovely Protector who came equipped with a shovel, was lifting the dirt from the pavement. I asked her what she was doing as she said “Excavating.” I asked if she had found anything and she replied: “Yes. A late 20th century pavement”
*Image thanks to Dave Ellison