At the end of January Lancashire County Council will decide whether Cuadrilla can resume its controversial fracking operations for shale gas. Fracking was suspended across the UK back in 2011 after the company's attempts to frack in Lancashire triggered several earthquakes.
A lot has changed in the four years since the attempts to frack Lancashire. The UK Government has gone "all out for shale", with the Department for Energy and Climate Change making up to 60% of the UK potentially available for fracking. And George Osborne has shown that he is determined to see fracking happen under UK soil. He has set about creating a tax regime he's described as "the most generous in the world" and is planning to offer local communities financial incentives to 'embrace' fracking.
While the Government's gone into fracking hype overdrive Friends of the Earth has found that much has also changed on the ground in areas threatened by fracking. In Lancashire the local community has rallied against the fracking proposals. Residents have formed groups like Frack Free Lancashire and Residents Action on Fylde Fracking. And we have worked with them to inform residents about the dangers fracking would bring to their community.
These groups have sprung up because they recognise that fracking is a risky technique that threatens water supplies and all that people love about their local environment. Fracking also produces climate-wrecking dirty fossil fuels when experts are telling us that we need to shift to clean energy. Despite the Government's best attempts to convince people otherwise, fracking won't help lower our energy bills or create nearly as many long term jobs as renewables.
Lancashire Council now has an opportunity to say 'no' to the dinosaur age of fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy, which offers genuine solutions to the UK's energy crisis. The Council can turn its back on controversial fracking and kickstart a renewable energy revolution in Lancashire that would create sustainable jobs and tackle climate change - without the need to trespass beneath residents' homes and businesses.
If the Council finds itself dazzled by Cuadrilla's heavy lobbying efforts and the short term financial incentives being touted by the Government and grants permission, it risks causing long-lasting environmental, economic and social damage. Last month New York State imposed a ban on fracking - Lancashire should do similar.
Earlier this week Friends of the Earth released a new film giving an insight into what ordinary people in Lancashire really think about fracking. The film demonstrates the utter contempt that local residents and businesses hold for the idea of fracking in Lancashire.
These people are on the frontline and these planning decisions represent a significant moment in the battle to stop fracking across the UK. If the Council refuses the application it will raise serious doubts on whether any community in the UK would have to accept an extreme form of fossil fuel extraction on their doorsteps and under their property.
You can help to protect these despairing residents and stand up to the might of the fossil fuel industry and government by signing this petition. By standing beside these normal people whose lives have been thrown into turmoil by the fracking proposals you will be saying no to fracking and protecting Lancashire communities both present and future.