At 8.30am yesterday morning, anti-fracking activists gathered for a clowning action at the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Affairs (DPEA) in Falkirk. Dressed in colourful clown costumes a group of 17 activists mocked the dangers of fracking with ridiculous play. Clowns burst in to the car park with music, banners and a fracking tower as bemused workers looked on. Games continued to the to town centre to raise awareness among the public.
A spokesperson for the actions said “we are here today to highlight the absurdity of going down yet another route of non-renewable energy that is a short term and dangerous solution to a long term energy/carbon problem with it’s own set of potentially devastating environmental consequences.”
Despite mounting evidence of the dangers of fracking contaminating local water supplies releasing high carbon methane gas and risk of catastrophic explosions, the government is committed to giving fracking multi-nationals the green light, placing profit over local opposition and the potential for environmental destruction.
“We are here to show those making the decision about DART Energy’s application to frack in the Falkirk and other areas, that opposition to these irresponsible operations is mounting. We are here in support of local opposition to the plans and ongoing international opposition to fracking elsewhere.” (1)
The DPEA was targeted as clown investigations uncovered evidence that the decision on what happens next with the fracking plans in Scotland’s central belt will be taken there by government civil servants(2). This follows DART Energy’s appeal to the Scottish Government when Falkirk and Stirling councils failed to make the decision due to resistance from local communities, and a lack of credible information on health and environmental concerns(3).
The action happened amid growing concerns over both the Westminster and Holyrood governments’ current favouring of short sighted, lucrative non-renewable energy plans, despite their alleged commitments to cutting carbon and pursuing renewable energy resources.
Last week George Osbourne announced tax breaks for fracking firms operating within the UK (of 50% more than other energy companies(4). This break was championed by Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party Chief Strategist and the man responsible for promoting shale gas fracking in Australia. Crosby’s PR firm “Crosby Textor” also represents the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, of which DART is a subsidiary.
Following publication of this article, members of the local community raised concerns about the limits of the term “fracking” in relation to DART’s current planning applications.
Using the term “fracking” can be problematic as it only refers to a part of the process of gas extraction that is not always necessary. Dart have avoided using the term fracking in their planning application, denying they need to frack while extracting coal bed methane at Airth (although they may frack at some point in the future, as gas production drops).
Objections to the planning application at DPEA are careful to use the terms “unconventional gas” or simply ” coal bed methane” extraction. Dart have, in the past, dismissed objections using the term fracking and have tried to make objectors seem uninformed or scaremongering.
In this article the term “fracking” is referring to all unconventional gas or coal-bed methane extraction.
For more info on the processes see: http://frack-off.org.uk/coal-bed-methane-the-evil-twin-of-shxle-gas/