Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Monday, 5 May 2014

May Day Speech

Photo Chris Rivers
(My speech to the Manchester Trades Council May Day March and Rally 5 May 2014)

Fracking is an unconventional oil. Conventional oil has peaked and, like alcoholics in a pub that is about to run dry, we are now looking for other ways to feed our addiction; tar sands, deep-water and arctic oil and fracking for shale gas.

Fracking is something that could be coming to all of us. It may not be coming fast, but it is on its way. 

According to Grant Shapps, the Tory Party chairman, a fracking site is no bigger than an ordinary house. Seeing as we’re talking about something the area of two football pitches with a fifty foot tower, I guess he must have a slightly bigger home than me.

As well as what they look like, if you have a rig in your back yard there are up to fifty lorries a day going in and out, noise, air pollution and the risk of groundwater contamination. Maybe that’s nothing to worry about. As someone said on the London Stock Exchange websie recently, we can always drink Evian, which is completely safe as the French have banned fracking.

Then there is Climate Change.

Climate Change is the issue of our generation. It will affect the politics, economics and geography of the age we will live through. If we get this issue right the future will be eternally grateful to us. If we get it wrong we may not have a future.

Photo Defo
The problem is real and it is imminent. Tropical storms like Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines
last year, are the skirmishers ahead of an army of so called ‘natural’ disasters that will sweep the world. In the future it won’t just be parts of Somerset flooding, but all of Bangladesh. It won’t just be the Middle East where drought causes famine and then civil war, but most of Africa and Asia.

Fracking will contribute to climate change, eventually, but the main problem now is that it is the major roadblock to our dealing with the problem. We need renewable energy as soon as possible. The climate cannot wait for us to ride out two decades of fracking boom and bust first.

Fracking is the last gasp of the fossil fuel dinosaurs, a final, desperate argument for business as usual when all the evidence is that we need a paradigm shift away to cleaner energy.

But Fracking is also an environmental justice issue. 

With the government consultation at an end two thirds of the country is now potentially at risk of fracking, and that includes National Parks like the Peak District and leafy Tory-voting Shires. But realistically that’s not where they are going to frack, at least not yet. First it will be places like Barton Moss. Not that Barton Moss isn’t beautiful – it is fantastic – but the people who go there to watch the birds don’t arrive in Range Rovers.

Photo Sue Lees
Never let it be said that the Working Class in this country don’t care about the countryside. My granddad worked in a factory in Stockport galvanising metal, a job that ensured he was dead before I was born. But at the weekends he was out on the hills. He was one of the people who in 1932 took part in a mass trespass on Kinder Scout, Direct Action that led to the creation of the Peak District National Park.

We are seeing today Direct Action is defense of the countryside that would make my granddad proud and Manchester has been the front line. And once we’ve defeated fracking the government will be forced to look for alternatives. We will have to develop wind, wave and solar power, we will have to invest in public transport and energy conservation. And these projects will create jobs, real jobs, jobs for Trade Union members who will come to marches like this and who will be proud that Manchester TUC supported this cause.

Join us and oppose fracking. Come to our event at the Mechanics Institute next Saturday, tell Stockport Council we don’t want Igas back on Barton Moss, tell Trafford Council we don’t want them at Davyhulme either, tell Salford Council to debate our petition on fracking and tell the government we don’t want fracking here or anywhere else.

So lets end with a really big Frack Off to Igas, to Cuadrilla, to DART and to Celtique Energie, to Total, to Lord Browne and all the other frackers.

One, two, three…. Frack Off!

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