The anti-fracking protester came to prominence across Britain last summer when protesters sat in front of trucks and chained themselves to barriers in a bid to stop energy firm Cuadrilla from fracking in Balcombe, Sussex, near where she lives. In January, Cuadrilla scrapped plans to frack near Balcombe, stating that the rocks at its site already contain natural fractures.
A clip of Ms. Vine accusing Conservative MP Peter Lilley of lying about fracking on Channel 4 news went viral in January. In December 2012, she handed a letter into Downing Street calling for an immediate UK-wide ban on shale gas and coal bed methane exploration and development.
During her trip she also visited Sligo, Leitrim, Carrick-on-Shannon and Belfast.
“I haven’t always been an activist. I am a mother who lived near a frack site,” she tells The Impartial Reporter. She set up Britain and Ireland Frack Free because: “I felt a network across Britain and Ireland was needed to communicate the latest planning applications and actions being taken right across the UK by fracking companies.”
Ms. Vine believes that “fracking is an utterly ineffectual approach to meeting our critical energy needs and our legislators make a huge mistake when they turn a blind eye to its potentially irreversible dangers.
“If they do not say: ‘No’ to Cuadrilla, UK Methane, Dart Energy, iGas Tamboran, Coastal Oil and Gas, Magellan Petroleum, Celtique etc, and decide instead to invest in safe, renewable sources of energy, that will provide real energy security and lasting employment, we will be in dire collective trouble.”
During the Enniskillen meeting, she shared her experience of the protests with local campaigners, warning that you can get hurt or arrested.
She claimed that “the Greater Manchester police force became security for the industry”. It was heartening to hear Chris Faulkner of Breitling Energy Corporation (who is known in USA as ‘the frack master’) say that protesters are putting off investors. In December, he said the shale gas market was being threatened by “scaremongering” green campaigners. Ms. Vine reiterates: “We know that when people sit in front of trucks that costs the industry money.”
Local campaigners are going in the right direction by researching the legalities of fracking, she believes. Summing up local peoples’ concerns, she continued: “I understand that the shale in Fermanagh may be too shallow because experts have said there should be a gap of 1200 metres between aquifers and the fracking zone.”
Locals have also been “highly questionable” about Environment Minister Arlene Foster’s role in fracking coming to Fermanagh, she reports.
The prospect of fracking “is terrifying,” according the Ms. Vine. She worries that, in Northern Ireland, “they (fracking companies) will try to play on existing divisions”.
She says: “I was very heartened to sit in Enniskillen and hear all these different accents in one room, all with the attitude that ‘we are all in this together.’”
Her concluding advice is: “Speak to MLAs; don’t listen to politicians or ‘frackademia’ who are on the energy company’s payroll; and research online on sites such as Drill Baby Drill.”
Article Author: Meadhbh Monahan