Frack Free Solent March Newsletter and public meeting 15/03/14

FFS_001Here’s a roundup of what’s been happening locally, plus upcoming Frack Free Solent events for March.

Don’t forget to check our website for up to date info, news & more.

Markwells Wood

We are regularly monitoring the site at Markwells Wood, Forestside – a few hundred yards north of the T-junction here  – https://goo.gl/maps/qJSPq .

The oil & gas exploration site is owned by Northern Petroleum (50%), Magellan Petroleum (40%) and Egdon Resources (10%) with NP holding operator status on the site.  With their planning permission for further exploration renewed until March 2015, we believe Northern Petroleum will be investigating the possibility of hydrocarbon extraction using fracking.  We have spoken to many local residents, who are very concerned at the prospect of having an industrial fracking site on their doorstep – despite the best attentions of Northern’s PR firm taking many of them out to lunch, sending presents etc.

Frack Free Solent is organising a public meeting for local residents on Saturday 15 March from 10am – 12pm at Forestside & Stansted Village Hall (just opposite Christ Church, on the road to Stansted Park – http://goo.gl/maps/oD3QG Please pass this information onto anyone living locally who would be interested in finding out more about what fracking could mean for the area.

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Frack Free Solent – Benefit Music Nights

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Frack Free Solent – Benefit Music Nights

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We have two benefit music nights coming up soon, put on to raise funds for the costs of campaigning against fracking – printing leaflets, hiring halls.

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Saturday 8 March 7.30pm

SEIZE THE DAY Internationally known radical English acoustic band with global roots – don’t miss them!

“The musical voice of the environmental movement” – Satish Kumar, Resurgence Magazine

“Folk-rock with a radical edge, the band of choice of the direct action and environmental movements” – Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP

Plus support band Wheels of the World & guest appearance by Vanessa Vine, Balcombe campaigner.

St Faiths Parish Hall, The Pallant, Havant PO9 1BE – Map

Advance tickets £8/£5 concessions/£16

Please share our facebook event page
Ticket price includes a light supper (veggie). Soft drinks and licensed bar available. All proceeds go to Frack Free Solent.

Friday 14 March 7.30pm

ROBB JOHNSON of the Anti-Capitalist Roadshow

British musician and songwriter, who has been called “one of the last genuinely political songwriters”, and is known for his mix of political satire and wit.  He has his own record label, Irregular Records, and has released more than 30 albums either solo or in several collaborations. Member of the Anti-Capitalist Roadshow singers & songwriters collective

“The real deal when it comes to songwriting” – Mike Harding, BBC Radio2

“An English original” – Robin Denselow, The Guardian

Plus support from Chris Bluemel of radical English acoustic band Seize the Day

In the Gun Room at the RMA Tavern, 58 Cromwell Road, Eastney, Portsmouth PO4 9PN – Map

Tickets in advance from Jenny Flintoft email or 023 9241 358 – £8/£6 concessions.

All proceeds go to Frack Free Solent.

Autonomy Films present: Austin the photographer and the Bridport women wildcat strikers. 7pm 9th November 2013

Austin Flyer

7pm for 7.30pm Saturday 9th November 2013 W.I. Hall, North Street, Bridport

£3 Entry  (less if you can’t afford it)

Vegetarian soup on sale from 6.30pm

An unknown piece of  Bridport ‘history from below’ of 100 years ago

Austin the photographer and the Bridport women wildcat strikers

An illustrated talk by Carlos Guarita

EVENTS  ORGANISED BY OTHERS.

Frack-free Dorset

Dorset Greenpeace will be in South Street, Dorchester on Saturday 2nd November from 9:30 to 12:00 to raise awareness about fracking. Greenpeace have launched a new country-wide campaign to create a legal block against fracking. It’s called “Not for Shale”.  If you’re in town, you can go and say hello and find out more or even help on the stall to get the message across.  Just 30 mins of your time could help nlighten 15 members of the public to the ks of fracking;  it’s easy once you start,  and regular campaigners   will be alongside to support.

The ask will be to enter a postcode on the wrong move –the next page will tell you if fracking could happen in that area. If it’s a yes, then you have the opportunity to object. Frack Free Dorset facebook group and Frack Free Dorset

Unusual Things that Happen at Trees.

Illustrated talk about a hidden history of visions, rituals and healing at special trees. This popular tradition has survived across Europe, partly inside conventional religion and partly despite it, and is traced back over 3,000 years. Thursday 7th November 8 pm The Ropemakers Pub  (at the back of the pub) West Street, Bridport.

News from the front – a Day of Action in the Class War – Saturday 17th August

We rose early and breakfasted well as we anticipated the day ahead. The targets had been well defined, plans drawn up with military precision and we were off.

The first action involved a picket and communications blockade by a powerful alliance of unionists and activists from Bristol General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Dorset Socialists, Wessex Solidarity, Solent Solidarity Federation.

The picket was set up because a good and conscientious worker at Ulwell Cottage Caravan Park in Swanage had been sacked in October 2012 for drawing attention to health and safety concerns, was victimised for membership of the IWW and threatened with local blacklisting.

The picket was in place promptly at 10.00 in the morning and was a good natured, lawful and peaceful affair that did raise some curiosity amongst the holiday makers at the park.

It was wonderful to see holiday makers and activists getting along so well and a large number of leaflets were handed out explaining why we were there. The activists went to extraordinary lengths to reassure the holidaymakers that we weren’t there to spoil their holiday and that if they agreed with our contentions to express their concern to the management at the park who are notoriously bad employers in the Dorset area.

Several holidaymakers expressed their solidarity with our action before they went off to enjoy their day and we can only hope that they had a wonderful time.

Reaction from the management at the park proved to be a different story. One young man who we believe to be a junior (in status not age) member of the family that own the park was rather rude and not a little threatening to one of our female activists who had travelled all the way from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. It gives me enormous pleasure to report that this solid comrade was well able to stand her ground and not be intimidated by this inappropriately butch moron.

The communications blockade which, we believe was being conducted from all over Europe, seems to have kicked in around this time and was proving extremely effective. We observed, with some pleasure, that a certain Mrs Karen Jackson, admin manager and daughter of the site owner appeared after about half an hour of setting up in a state of some agitation and with a massive amount of paper. Job done.

After about an hour and a half a large 4×4 police vehicle turned up crewed by a couple of Dorset’s finest. Within less than 5 minutes the jolly boys in blue had been reassured by an activist there was nothing to worry about, accepted one of our leaflets and drove off to, obviously, more urgent duties never to be seen again.

By about 12.30 our point had been made and we moved on to support another action in Portsmouth while the IWW in America continued the communications blockade.

A redoubtable group of concerned Portsmouth citizenry had gathered to tell the English Defence League (EDL) that they weren’t welcome there. Why Nazi’s would want to advance their cause in a British naval port that had been bombed to bits by Nazi’s during World War 2 is anyone’s guess. We can only wonder.

Sadly we were badly held up in traffic at Ringwood. We arrived in Portsmouth at around 3pm and we able to link up with some of the people who had turned out to oppose the laughable EDL action.

Eye witness reports from reliable sources witnessed that for the most part, the bone heads in the EDL, after throwing some fireworks at innocent passers-by and being not a little the worse for drink had comprehensively defeated their own shambolic effort by turning on each other and fighting amongst themselves.

Tired but happy we got home around 10pm after a lot of road miles, chanting, singing, having nice conversations with holiday makers and some top-notch solidarity with the citizens of Portsmouth.

The icing on the cake had to be something we saw on the newsstand at Bournemouth railway station when we stopped off for a well earned coffee and bar of choccy.

‘Police give in to mob rule’ screamed the headlines from a Daily Mail newspaper, one of many on the stand which judging by the number still there at 8.30pm hadn’t sold too well that day.

The headline was referring to a story from Balcombe that Cuadrilla, the drilling company involved in the fracking controversy in Sussex had suspended operations.

How much better could it get? Well 3 victories in one day won by committed activists from all across the spectrum of decent and well motivated working people has to be something to crow about – doesn’t it?

So there we have it. A grand testimony to what decent ordinary people can achieve when they stand in solidarity with each other regardless of race, gender, creed, or sexual preference or state borders.

If I was an establishment bourgeois toff I would be very, very worried by these developments and with good cause.

Anon – somewhere in Dorset – Sunday 18th August

IMPORTANT NEWS: ‘No Dash For Gas’ action camp to switch location from West Burton power station to Balcombe.

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The coalition of climate, anti-austerity and fuel poverty activists who were planning on returning to West Burton power station for the Reclaim The Power action camp in August have decided to switch location to Balcombe, where the Sussex community is currently resisting exploratory drilling by Cuadrilla.

The decision was made after a meeting of climate and economic justice activists from all over the country on Sunday weighed up the pros and cons of how to respond to a call for support from Balcombe residents. Hundreds had pledged to take action against EDF’s Gas and Coal power station in Nottinghamshire, which was shut down last year by 21 activists in the longest power station protest ever seen in the UK.

For the last two weeks, a coalition of local community members and climate activists, including the national anti-fracking campaign network Frack Off have been obstructing exploratory drilling at the Balcombe site in Sussex. People have super-glued themselves to the gates leading on to the site, and locked themselves into a vintage fire engine which blocked the road leading on to the fracking site last week.

The Reclaim the Power camp – now taking place in Balcombe from August 16-21 – will bring together a wide range of groups and individuals from across environmental, economic and social justice networks to discuss ideas, strengthen links, and share skills in direct action and civil disobedience to take action against the Cuadrilla site. Participating groups include UKUncut, Occupy, Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners Association and Fuel Poverty Action.

Reclaim The Power organisers have been participating in blockades and staying at the camp since the beginning of protests in the village against Caudrilla. In a statement they explained why they had decided to shift focus on to Balcombe:

“We are responding to the call for support from the community in Balcombe opposing fracking. We share their serious concerns about the environmental and social impacts of fossil fuel extraction in their area. Balcombe is a test case for rolling out fracking across the country – with drilling concessions planned for 64% of the surface of England alone. if we can stop it in Balcombe, we can stop it elsewhere.

“Fracking is part of the wider dash for gas which includes the construction of up to 40 new Gas fired power stations. This agenda, if allowed to play out, will crash our climate targets, increase fuel poverty and keep our future energy dangerously concentrated in the hands of unaccountable corporations.

“We want democratically controlled, clean energy. The obstacles to achieving this are political not technical. We need to reclaim our power”

Vanessa Vine, founder of Founder of Frack Free Sussex – living four miles from the Balcombe drill site said:

“For two years we’ve tried everything we can think of. We’ve created ultimately futile petitions, inundated social media and taken a UK-wide deputation to Number 10 – with an incisive and inarguable letter calling for an outright ban on unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation in Britain. Cameron could not answer it, because the truths presented were indisputable – so he ignored it.

Cuadrilla have proven themselves to be both dishonest and terrifyingly inept through their operations and behaviour in Lancashire. The Environment Agency received well over 800 detailed objections to their application for a Mining Waste Permit in Balcombe (along with a 9000 signature petition). They issued it regardless. They are not listening and it has become starkly clear that it is anyway simply not possible to regulate this ecocidal industry safely.

85% of Balcombe residents have stated that they do not want fracking.

Reclaim the Power are a coalition of people of great integrity, who are committed to redressing the imbalance of corporate/governmental manipulation of energy exploitation in this country – with all the dreadful potential ramifications of that which we are now beginning to see unfold.

Between us, the Balcombe and wider communities are making a very impressive delaying dent in Cuadrilla’s designs on our soil, air and water – but it isn’t working quickly enough. They have got their drill bits in the ground.”

Legal Observer training at Reclaim the Power camp this weekend:

Full Legal Observer training – Saturday 17th August 5:30pm. We also hope to run a refresher/advanced session for those who have already trained but have been inactive for a while, probably on Sunday 18th. Plus there will be Know Your Rights workshops – Saturday at 11am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm.

So, if you want to come to Reclaim Power as a Legal Observer but haven’t been trained yet, then you’re in luck!

**Come along and be part of the essential infrastructure of protests, and get to know your rights while you’re at it!**

Please email gbclegal@riseup.net to confirm your attendance as there’s some stuff you need to know beforehand.