PROTESTERS OCCUPY LICHFIELD HQ OF FRACKING COMPANY CUADRILLA IN SUPPORT OF BALCOMBE PROTESTS

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Contact:
- on the ground in Lichfield 07547516732
- Reclaim the Power camp in Balcombe 07747027112 or 07746339931

Live updates and photos will be posted from: Twitter @nodashforgas ; Facebook No Dash for Gas

20 protesters have shut down the headquarters of Lichfield-based fracking [1] company Cuadrilla (Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, Stowe Court, Stowe Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6AQ) by blockading it with their bodies. There are two people inside the building and they are hanging banners off the building saying ‘Reclaim the Power’ and ‘Power to the People’. This is part of a day of action planned by the Reclaim the Power’ camp (see www.nodashforgas.org.uk) in solidarity with the people of Balcombe, West Sussex, and against the Government’s ‘dash for gas’. This is one of several direct actions taking place across the UK today.

The protest aims to highlight Balcombe’s struggle against Cuadrilla’s unwanted invasion into their community (85% of residents oppose fracking) for fear of contaminated water, earthquakes, explosions, air pollution and industrialisation of the rural area. Similar threats loom over Birmingham’s green belt.

Licenses for hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ for shale gas and coal-bed methane, and other forms of unconventional gas extraction [2] have already been issued near Lichfield, Telford, Stafford and north Warwickshire. [3] Most of the area around Birmingham is currently under review for unconventional gas exploration licenses as part of the 14th Licensing Round.

The fracking frenzy is the most visible element of the Government’s ‘dash for gas’. The dash for gas is a massive investment in gas, including plans to build up to 40 new gas-fired power stations as many coal-fired power stations reach the end of their life. The price of gas, fracked or not, will only increase energy bills. However, proper investment in renewables would lead to energy becoming increasingly affordable for everyone.

Debby Petersen, who is taking part in the action, said:

‘Cuadrilla have imposed their dirty energy on the community of Balcombe, and so we have brought our camp from Balcombe to their headquarters. Whilst local resistance at Balcombe has halted Cuadrilla’s operations for the time being, in this HQ in Lichfield they are planning further dangerous exploration for shale gas in the UK, which cannot be allowed to continue. We need to reclaim our energy system from the hands of corporations that will frack our countryside, crash our climate targets and send fuel bills through the roof. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transition to a decentralised, clean, affordable energy system that communities have control over. Our action will send a strong message to EDF, Cuadrilla and other companies that neither Big Gas or fracking are the answers to our energy future’.

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Notes to editors

1. Address of protest: Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, Stowe Court, Stowe Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6AQ. Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ is an extraction process involving injecting at high pressure a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to fracture the shale rock beneath, allowing trapped gas or oil to be released. Cuadrilla Resources are currently licensed to drill for shale oil and gas, and has been mired in controversy. Its fracking exploration operations were responsible for an earth tremor in Lancashire, while Cuadrilla boss Lord Browne – who also sits in the Cabinet office – has been at the centre of various scandals including appointing senior executives to Government from the fracking industry, and lobbying to influence policies that will directly benefit his company.
2. ‘Unconventional gas extraction’ methods such as fracking use new technologies to extract gas from increasingly hard-to-reach places underground. e.g. Underground Coal Gasification involves setting fire to coal seams underground and bringing the toxic cocktail produced to the surface. These processes have been shown to cause dangerous levels of drinking water contamination (including levels of methane so high that tap water can be ignited), fires, explosions, earthquakes and an array of other issues that are concerning environmentalists and local communities. If the dash for gas goes ahead these extreme techniques of gas extraction are likely to become much more common.
3. North Warwickshire is the constituency of MP Dan Blyes, chair of the Parliamentary Fracking group and chief pro-fracking lobbyist. Here the famous Daw Mill Colliery, previously the UK’s largest coal mine could be the site for fracking. Daw Mill famously closed recently due to a fire. The same gas which closed the pit could now bring in fracking.

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