Up to 3,000 people – including many from Scarborough – marched through the centre of York on Saturday to highlight opposition to fracking, here and everywhere. According to some reports, it was the biggest protest against fracking ever seen in Britain, and was supported by groups from Yorkshire, Lancashire and beyond.
Organised by Frack Free York, the demonstration started at Clifford’s Tower in a colourful array of banners and placards, and the mood was defiant and upbeat. The Lancashire Nanas, in their distinctive yellow tabards, were in fine voice as always, and were joined by a large contingent of their Yorkshire counterparts in light blue – including at least two ‘Mananas’!
With chants of ‘No fracking Yorkshire – no fracking anywhere!’ and ‘Once you frack you can’t go back – ban fracking now!’, the march snaked around the city centre, leaving on-lookers (many of them supportive) in no doubt as to our cause.
Thanks to the majority decision of a small clique of mainly Tory councillors willing to do the Government’s bidding, Kirby Misperton in Ryedale has been chosen to kick-start the dash for ‘unconventional’ gas, but there were no ‘Nimbys’ among us as anti-frackers see a threat to one community as a threat to all.
Graham Martin, one of the organisers of Saturday’s demonstration, said:
“We were absolutely overwhelmed by the turnout, which exceeded all our expectations. This shows that more and more people across Yorkshire are waking up to the threat of fracking to the countryside, rural jobs, tourism, the environment and climate change.”
The march ended in a large rally outside York Minster, where activists spoke eloquently of the threat posed by fracking – or whatever the industry and its backers might choose to call it.
John Ashton, who was the government’s special representative for climate change between 2006 and 12, said:
“You can be in favour of fixing the climate. Or you can be in favour of exploiting shale gas. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time.”
Kim Hunter, of Frack Free Scarborough, said our movement should draw strength from the different campaigns mobilising around the country challenging the status quo and business-as-usual politics. Just the day before the march, Jeremy Corbyn had filled St Helen’s Square in York.
Some of the biggest cheers of the day were for reluctant heroine Tina Rothery, who put her name to a protest in a field near Blackpool ear-marked for fracking.
“We keep hearing about what’s good for the economy. But we don’t live in an economy, we live in a community,”
said the Lancashire Nana.
There was also a good response to the public debut of Frack Free Scarborough’s own anti-fracking song, written by and accompanied by our own Dave Mason.