When Cuadrilla, Ineos and other fracking companies set their sights on turning the English countryside into major gas fields a few years ago, they were relying on the fact that this would stay mostly below the radar, and they could simply get on with getting the drills in and raking in profits.
Several years on, this couldn't be further from the truth, as an unprecedented month-long Rolling Resistance kicks off in Lancashire this July. Organised by Reclaim the Power, hundreds of people from all across the country are making their way to a camp set up near Preston New Road. They are joining and amplifying the efforts of an incredibly strong and battle-hardy community which has dug in their heels in ever since the threat first appeared in Lancs. Rapidly formed groups like Frack Free Lancs and Preston New Road Action Group continue to cause fracking giant Cuadrilla costly delays and clear frustration.
The resistance to fracking here doesn't just centre on the fact that fracking is a dirty, polluting and dangerous industry which threatens communities, our climate and health. On top of the environmental issues, the profound insult to democracy is that the people of Lancs already said no to fracking. In 2015, residents followed proper procedure to convince Lancashire county council to reject fracking. But then a year later, as local councillor Miranda Cox notes, the "ironically named Communities Secretary Sajid Javid" overruled this decision in Westminster, and decided to force fracking on a local area that is firmly opposed.
What does that mean? In her words, that "Our way of life is now under threat from an industry backed by distant central government".
The stir caused by attempts to frack in Lancashire is clear from the moment you arrive. The bus driver directed me to the site where Cuadrilla are trying to start fracking as almost a tourist destination, and fracking was the hot topic of conversation on the bus as we passed the gate. One passenger mentioned the earthquakes that had happened as a result of previous fracking attempts near Blackpool, and said about local residents here, "they're all very worried."
And they're not just worried - they're actively resisting. At Saturday's launch event for this month's renewed push against fracking, local councillors, parents, farmers and doctors all spoke about how they have spent months slowing Cuadrilla down at every turn. These people, many of whom freely admit they'd never have considered themselves activists, have been out day after day, rain or shine, using a variety of tactics to slow down and hopefully halt the turning of their beautiful countryside into "a sacrifice zone".
One of the more seasoned campaigners on site told me she didn't think she'd have to use direct action to stop any drilling when they were meticulously going through the local democratic process to get the council to reject Cuadrilla's proposal.They had faith in that process. Now she's part of an incredibly well-organised community, who as well as organising round-the-clock watches outside the proposed site can spring into action to get more neighbours, friends and their children down whenever it looks like Cuadrilla is trying to move in more equipment.
The injustice of business and government forcing fracking on Lancashire has propelled this resistance far beyond the local area. And it's only going to get bigger this month.
A dairy farmer told the crowds gathering at the launch last Saturday about the damage fracking could cause to the soil and water he relies on. But he was clear: as a food producer, my worries ought to be your worries.
His call to action was echoed loud and clear by all the local speakers: There's a role for everyone here, and every individual is as important as the rest. Have your eyes open and get ready to tackle injustice.
One of the local campaigners told us this weekend that when it became clear government was giving fracking the green light, she invested in thermal underwear for a long cold winter of protest.
Well now we prepare for a long hot summer of protest. Public and political support for fracking is at an all-time low. The fracking industry is up against it, facing ever more costly delays and losing the confidence of investors and its supply chain. The time to escalate is now.
So what are you waiting for? JOIN Reclaim the Power at the Rolling Resistance this July (find out how here!) and play your part to protect us all from the reckless disaster of fracking in the UK.Suggest a correction