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Sunday, 22nd April 2018

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Reclaim the Power – campaigners fight against fracking in Balcombe

Matt Stanley from the NUS National Executive joined the protests in Balcombe over the weekend against fracking. Here he explains why the growing movement against fracking is vital in the fight for a sustainable, green future.

This weekend more than two thousand of campaigners joined the Reclaim the Power camp in Balcombe, Sussex to protest against fracking. The four day action camp, led by No Dash for Gas and supported by activist groups, featured talks, music, skill sharing workshops and mass action. The camp offered an opportunity for people to come together in a coordinated, determined effort to oppose fracking and the new dash for gas, with over a thousand people marching to the Cuadrilla drilling site on Sunday.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the process of drilling and injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Fracking is part of the wider dash for gas which includes the construction of dozens of new gas-fired power stations and test drilling sites opening in Lancashire and Sussex. In America there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination caused by fracking as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to contaminated water. Opposing this new dash for gas is not only an environmental issue, but also one of social justice.

Figures show that in 2011/12 24,000 more people died in winter as levels of fuel poverty climbed while the big six energy companies made £3.3 billion in extra profits over the last three years. The obstacles to a cleaner, fairer energy system are political, not procedural.

The Tories are committed to a new dash for gas. Lobbying from energy companies has ensured 50% tax breaks for fracking companies, who profit regardless of whether carbon emissions and gas prices fall. Those very same companies have even admitted that fracking will have an ‘insignificant or no impact’ on reducing gas prices.

The government’s addiction to fossil fuels will drive thousands more people into fuel poverty, crash our carbon targets and ensure that our energy supply continues to be dominated by expensive, dirty fuel. In contrast the UK has the greatest potential for renewable energy in Europe. Investing in renewable energy will provide thousands of jobs as well as clean energy which will only get cheaper.

Reclaim the Power camp and the mass actions in Balcombe allow people to make the links between social, economic and environmental injustice. Balcombe is now at the frontline of the fight for a fairer, more sustainable future.

Take action

Email your councillor to oppose fracking in your area here.

Lobby your MP to support EDM 2292 – For a moratorium on fracking.

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