Why I risked arrest to protest against fracking

Ministers are ignoring analysis that undermines the myth it will lower fuel bills

Share

There are some major questions to be asked about the role of politicians in the fracking debate. To me, the biggest are about why the Prime Minister is acting as a public relations man for the shale gas industry, and why there are people with financial interests in the sector who have senior roles in Government.

Over the past 24 hours, however, two rather different questions have been put to me several times. The first is: why would an MP would feel the need to “get herself arrested” in a peaceful, non-violent protest against fracking? The second is: should an elected representative ever take direct action?

In response to the first, neither I, nor any of the protesters I have spoken to, set out with the intention of spending time in police custody. Through entirely non-violent action, we are standing up against a process that would seriously undermine efforts to tackle climate change, and which exposes the local environment to risks such as ground-water contamination.

The second question is more reasonable. It is certainly true that, as an MP, I am in a very privileged position – I get to speak up on behalf of constituents, put questions directly to the Government, and push for parliamentary debates. However, like the people of Balcombe – most of whom oppose fracking, and who have written countless letters to MPs and ministers on the subject – I’ve found that the Government has its fingers firmly in its ears.

As well as the people who are directly affected, ministers are ignoring industry experts whose analysis undermines the frequently repeated myth that shale gas will mean lower fuel bills. Deutsche Bank, Chatham House, and Ofgem all predict that it will not bring down fuel bills. And the International Energy Agency has forecast that natural gas prices will rise by 40 per cent by 2020, even with an influx of cheap supplies from shale. The comparisons being drawn with US – with its very different energy markets, geology, population density and planning laws – just do not stand up.

Some of the proponents of fracking have used the term “nimbyism”, as if this technology were a force for good being opposed only by a handful of people in the home counties worried about property prices. On the contrary, this is part of the much bigger debate about the future habitability of our planet. Between 60 and 80 per cent of known fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. The widespread use of shale gas is quite simply incompatible with the Government’s international commitments to keep global warming below two degrees.

Britain can go down one of two routes now. One is to a future based on renewables, alongside greater investment in energy efficiency, where local communities have much greater say how their power is provided. The other is to a future based on polluting fossil fuels.  The people who took non-violent direct action at Balcombe were sending a very clear message about which we should choose.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Science Technician

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A school in Preston require a S...

SECONDARY SUPPORT

£65 - £75 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Due to the high dema...

Tutor required for Level 3 Workskills

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Eduction are...

Day In a Page

Read Next
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum: Some divorces are meant to happen – this one wasn’t

Dotti Irving
 

To see how the establishment operates, you really needed to be at this week’s launch party for Andrew Marr’s new book

John Walsh
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week