On 6 October, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid gave the green light to plans to drill for shale gas near Blackpool.
Javid, who has received money from fracking companies, overruled the (Labour) Lancashire county council, which, thanks to a large environmental campaign across Lancashire, had blocked the necessary drilling permissions.
Javid’s ruling comes following similar approvals for exploratory drilling wells in North Yorkshire in May this year. GMB, one of the unions which organise in the gas industry, has stated its support for the government’s intervention. More promisingly, hundreds of locals held a demonstration against the ruling on Saturday, led by the notorious “Nanas Against Fracking”.
Following the rally, one Nana wrote, “I am in shock and I am furious. We have so many wonderful people in the UK working for community cohesion, co-operation and sustainability. We cannot let this corrupt and arrogant minority rule us. They have to be removed”.
The campaign has pledged further mobilisation, including blockades of the well site, against the fracking company Cuadrilla, which is preparing to drill from March 2017. The labour movement should stand with the campaign and the Nanas, rather than with the Tory government and a high-carbon economy.
The Labour Party’s recent indication that it would ban fracking in government is positive – but it must be combined with practical support for the activists resisting the expansion of the shale gas industry in the UK. We need a labour movement which goes beyond the narrative of “highly skilled jobs” (in fact fracking promises a negligible number), and begins to pose demands towards a sustainable society.