An Unwelcome Gift

I was reading Tina Rothery’s blog and came across her notes for last night’s presentation in Lancaster. It struck a real chord, as somebody who has been labelled as an “activist” over the last few days because of my complaint to the ASA about Cuadrilla’s newsletter. I am not an “activist” – that word carries too much baggage. I am a concerned citizen, and I will not stand by doing nothing whilst I see something wrong happening before my eyes. Like Tina , I received an unwelcome gift last year – I can identify with everything she says here.

The Unwelcome Gift

Good evening – my name is Tina Rothery and I am with Residents’ Action on Fylde Fracking. Others here tonight have taken us through the issues surrounding unconventional energy… I would like instead to share what it has been to live here and not be an expert; just a concerned mother, grandmother and resident.
Tonight you received an ‘Unwelcome Gift’ – the truth about Unconventional Energy; I received mine back in early 2012 and before that, was blissfully unaware.
I heard that shale gas was discovered in Lancashire and Cuadrilla were coming to extract it…
Wanted to BELIEVE the glossy industry brochure
Wanted to BELIEVE in the promise of jobs that would come
And the assurance that this ‘NATURAL’ gas – would be safe…
…unfortunately – I write glossy brochures for a living and spotted the tell-tale WRIGGLE-ROOM wording. I wondered why boasts of safety were drowning in ‘maybes’, ‘rarelys’ and ‘unlikelys’ and was left awash with unanswered questions.
I looked for evidence from people actually living with the effects of this industry: online in the local media of towns in America, Canada and Australia; the Reader Comments were very telling, very real in their wording.
The words matter & the delivery matters ~ these are indicators of non-glossy, bare-naked truth
I looked to professionals within the energy industry and academics who were speaking out of the risk:
Presentations that were informed, questioning, full of personal knowledge and passion; experts speaking out and telling their evidenced truths.
Research took me to the insurance industry which by its nature MUST be cautious…
and it is – they face up to the risks because they have to measure them.
Where shale gas extraction is happening ~ insurance is nearly impossible to obtain
THEN I came to the activists, the anti-fracking community and those looking to alternative forms of energy.WHY
didn’t I start here? Because I WANTED to believe …and I didn’t want this struggle …to be my reality; I didn’t want this problem to be as big, as ugly and as downright real as it is. 
My sister and I found a wonderful cluster of people in a hut, in a park in St Annes near Blackpool – collectively they were RAFF (Residents Action on Fylde Fracking) and it was there and then that I fully accepted that I could not walk away and just leave this small but amazing group of individuals to protect me. 
 I have discovered the glorious CAVALRY since then in FRACK-OFF, REAF
(Ribble Estuary Against Fracking), BIFF (Britain & Ireland Frack
Free), Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Green Party, FRACK FREE FYLDE, REFRACKTION, Occupy and so many others throughout not just the UK – but the world. 
Alongside others in Australia, America, Canada and Europe, we have co-ordinated to act in unison, we have swapped information, shared resources, sworn and sometimes even cried a little at the insanity of this undertaking…
I find myself in the best of company ~ for the worst of reasons
For those fresh to the subject, tonight you will receive the unwelcome gift of truth… and I am genuinely sorry that this will happen.
Once you know the reality of the threat, once you see beyond the WRIGGLE-ROOM wording of the glossy brochures
and political promises – it is impossible to UN-know it.
It is impossible to put down and walk away because if you do:
-you accept that up to 65% of our agricultural land in the UK, can be put at risk
-you accept that you will put your health in the hands of corporate interest
-you accept the potential industrialisation and ruin of communities
-you accept a future that although unclear – is certain to include more earthquakes, vast quantities of hard-to-dispose-of waste, threats to our water supplies and long-term, damaging effects on land, livestock and people.
For those who DIDN’T put down the unwelcome gift of truth when they received it… and went on to generously share it with others – I am eternally grateful for your courage and determination.
Along the way, the truths have continued to be revealed as I unwrap this; information that many – certainly me – were unaware of… like when they tell you that fracking isn’t as bad as coal mining for risks… well I didn’t know there were that many risks with coal mining because the coal mining industry wasn’t letting us know when things went wrong. 
Just like the shale gas industry is avoiding sharing the harms by using PR companies to write the story and ensuring gagging orders are put on those who are harmed; in exchange for access to water –
 and that court case documents are locked away.

This ISN’T conspiracy, it is tragic truths and if we don’t act now, in some distant future a glossy brochure will emerge that explains how some other harmful form of energy extraction, is nowhere near as bad as fracking was. 

We CAN’T let that be the future for our children and if we don’t stand now – they will have to …and the picture will be even uglier by then.
Thank you for your kind attention

*please act by looking further into this unwelcome gift and doing whatever you personally can to raise awareness in your community, tell your MP and Councillors you don’t want this, join with others, sign up for newsletters, march if you want to, devise your own opposition or unite with others because now you have the truth, there is no going back.

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