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Frack Free Festival: Working Together to Face the Fracking Threat

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The INEOS site at Woodsetts marked with notices prohibiting access under a High Court injunction. Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

Jim Ratcliffe, the UK's richest man (who, incidentally, now lives in Monaco) has big plans for South Yorkshire. His petrochemical company, Ineos, have oil and gas exploration licenses for 3 sites in the region amounting to 1.2 million acres of land in the UK, and South Yorkshire is next on his target list. The company is a giant in the shale gas industry both in the UK and across the world with 71 facilities in 18 countries, and its sites are responsible for large-scale air, water and land pollution across the globe.

Ineos holds licenses for 3 sites all within 15 miles of Sheffield including Harthill, Woodsetts, and Eckington, which is only 6 miles from Sheffield city centre. Committed and spirited local anti-fracking groups are working tirelessly to campaign against the planned shale gas exploration licenses, which are gained against the wishes of local communities. Yet the fracking industry continues to show a blatant disregard for the needs of communities, who are seeking to protect their air, water, and land quality. Ineos recently announced that they wish to appeal to the national planning inspectorate against Rotherham Council's decision to refuse planning permission for shale gas exploration in Woodsetts in September due to environmental reasons.

They are bringing power back into the hands of the community

Ineos' appeal to the national inspectorate is an attack on localism and is part of a worrying precedent in the world of fracking that emphasises the power of big corporations over local democracy. 2018 saw the government try to introduce plans that would allow drilling for shale gas to take place under the category of 'permitted development', the same category that allows garden sheds to be built without applying for planning permission. This plan would remove any power from communities most affected by the presence of fracking wells and put it into the hands of big corporations who have only one thing in mind: profit.

Fracking pads are disruptive and ugly, devastating rural landscapes and communities - but their impact goes far beyond local environmental devastation. They are part of a nationwide narrative of environmental destruction, that sees men such as Jim Ratcliffe plan to use gas from fracking to increase his production of plastics in the UK, at a time when consumers are increasingly being urged to reduce their single-use plastic.

Frontline communities are fighting against fracking in the region and taking a stand against wider environmental injustices brought about by the fracking industry. They are bringing power back into the hands of the community in a worldwide fight against the ultra-rich and ultra-powerful who seem intent on pushing us towards climate breakdown.

We are organizing a Frack Free Festival with the help of these local groups from the 30 - 31 March at Harthill Village Hall. It is a family-friendly weekend for communities working together to face the fracking threat. The festival will be full of workshops and skill-sharing sessions from ordinary people with extraordinary experience in campaigning against fracking, and dedicated trainers with years of experience. There will also be space for discussions, performances, action planning and opportunities to learn what's been happening on the front lines of frack free campaigning. Come along to gain knowledge, gain skills, and get inspired to take a stance against the fracking industry. Not here, not anywhere!

To see how you can get involved, offer or request a workshop, or find out about transport and accommodation, email:

Facebook event:Frack Free Spring Gathering

Ruth Smart

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