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

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee