A year in the life of a fracking campaign – Monica Gripaios, Frack Free Ryedale:
“In the summer of 2014, local residents in Ryedale started noticing numbered posts at the side of the road and strange white vans in our country lanes. We had no idea what this was about until some of us attended two meetings, organised by Friends of the Earth and Frack Off, at local village halls. We learned that the posts and vans were part of a seismic survey, conducted on behalf of the oil and gas company Third Energy, who had a licence to explore our countryside with the aim of fracking for gas. At the meetings we learned what fracking was about, and we didn’t like what we heard. After attending both local Frack Off meetings, I spoke with Ed (from Frack Off) who had collected email addresses of people who wanted to be kept informed about fracking. He encouraged me to get another meeting going as soon as possible before the initial impetus was lost.
I think it was two days later when Adela Pickles called me upand said “what shall we do?” I suggested we hold a meeting at my house the next night and I emailed as many people as I could on the list. I expected half a dozen people to sit round my kitchen table, I was shocked when about sixteen people turned up! I just couldn’t seat everybody!
In that quick meeting Frack Free Ryedale was born – it was a very positive night. The most amazing thing was that most of us had never met, we came from very different walks of life united in our fight against fracking. Since then we have grown and grown, we have some excellent people supporting Frack Free Ryedale from all political persuasions, we care passionately about the environment and the future of the planet. We are not Luddites or tree huggers as the pro frack lobby would make you believe and we certainly don’t want the lights to go out. We just think there is another way forward which leaves most of the fossil fuels in the ground.
We decided that our first objective as a group should be to raise awareness within the community, as very few people in the area seemed to know what was going on.
We printed some leaflets, contacted the press and organiseda series of public meetings in villages across Ryedale. These meetings were extremely well attended and we realised that there were hundreds of people who wanted to do something to stop fracking.
Over the next few months we established ten local groups in villages and towns across Ryedale to help spread the word. These groups have organised their own events, including film showings, public talks, coffee mornings and demonstrations outside our local branch of Barclays, who own 97 per cent of Third Energy.
Fracking now featured in the local press almost every week– word was spreading.
In April we organised our most ambitious event – a march and rally in Malton, our local market town. About 1,000 people turned up for the biggest ever protest held in the town. A few days earlier, we took the battle to the Barclays AGM in London, with the help of Friends of the Earth. We also supported candidates in the national and district council elections, at which over 14,000 people voted for anti-fracking candidates.
Third Energy have recently submitted their application to frack at Kirby Misperton, a small village between the North York Moors National Park and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Frack Free Ryedale are working hard to engage with local communities, businesses and landowners to oppose this application. We are now reaching out to communities across North Yorkshire, as councillors from across the county will decide on Third Energy’s planning application later this year.
It’s been a busy year and there have been ups and downs along the way. We are all volunteers, from all walks of life and political persuasions, united in our opposition to fracking. We urge others around the country to come together and fight this industry, before it is too late.
Why I joined the anti-fracking movement – Tina Louise Rothery, Frack Free Lancashire
“I kinda came to this mainly because I’m a grandma, so I have two generations that live in Lancashire, and they want to continue living here and so do I. My one message would be, never underestimate the power of each one person showing up. Each one person sharing a post, each one person saying ‘wow you did great’. Each one person that did that made this movement so big, and so incredibly warm and supportive. No matter who you are, and what your upbringing was, or your social circumstance, or the demands on your time as a carer or whatever, you can still get involved in some way.
And everything is just a footstep into the door… I’m 53 so I only came to activism at 49, so it’s quite a big deal to think I wasted 49 years of not paying any attention to my planet or my democracy, mainly because I was too busy running all over it and enjoying it, and then now you think, ‘Wow there’s so much to lose, and I have a child and a grandchild to consider.
Once you join [the anti-fracking movement], you’ll be amazed by the diversity, the breakdown of social barriers. It’s been beautiful. Ian (Residents Action on Fylde Fracking) was asked the other day, ‘How is your community responding?’ And he said, ‘It’s a community. It wasn’t before’. He said ‘I had no idea I had a community, I lived in my house, I went to work and you come home. You see your neighbour from time to time.’ But this has bonded communities in a big way, because they found within themselves that there are people who actually do give a damn, and willing to give up all this time, all this energy and all this effort to protect themselves.
Personally I couldn’t be more grateful or humbled by the power of cooperation within our amazing anti-fracking movement, the communities taking a stand and Friends of the Earth in particular for the outstanding ways we have all conducted ourselves thus far.”