“The Word Merchant”
Trespassers onto Cuadrilla’s Lancashire natural gas site offer a sad perspective on the loss of civility pervading public policy disagreements these days.
Lancashire trespassers onto Cuadrilla’s natural gas development site over the last 18 months have, sadly, become a great example of environmental extremism and media manipulation, combined with a misguided sense of moral rectitude. Using name-calling, populist rhetoric, and demonization of fracking, these trespassers—English, Canadians or Americans—are nothing more than scofflaws and law breakers.
Cuadrilla, along with local farmers, has today filed papers to the High Court, in preparation for a hearing on 31st May 2018, for an injunction covering its shale gas exploration operations at Preston New Road, Lancashire.
The proposed injunction would replace and extend the duration of an existing injunction forbidding trespass on the company’s Preston New Road (PNR) shale gas exploration site and surrounding farmland. It would also prohibit unlawful obstruction of the site entrance and adjacent main “A” road.This would include “lock-ons” (chaining oneself to an object or another person to deliberately prevent access) and climbing onto, or slow walking in front of, vehicles accessing or leaving the site.
Unlawful disruption of Cuadrilla’s supply chain by, for example, blockading supplier properties would also be covered by the proposed injunction
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “Whilst we fully respect the right to peaceful and legal protest, unfortunately over the last 18 months we have seen an extraordinarily high level of unlawful protest activity. This has been directed at and impacted not just our workers but also our suppliers and other law abiding citizens using the main road passing our site for their normal daily activities. Such unlawful conduct cannot be permitted to continue, and we hope that if we can secure this injunction it will deter this unlawful behaviour which is reckless and continues to cost local taxpayers millions of pounds.”
Reacting to the news, a Lancashire For Shale spokersperson said: “We welcome today’s news that Cuadrilla is seeking to provide greater safeguarding for local businesses that want to play a role in the developing shale gas supply chain.
“Over 700 local businesses have expressed an interest in supplying the industry, and, already, Cuadrilla’s activities at Preston New Road have seen nearly £9m spent with Lancashire firms. The protection that this injunction would provide for local businesses will allow even more to engage without fear of being targeted.
“A successful shale gas industry will be a boon for Lancashire, bringing new contracting opportunities, boosting the jobs market and stimulating inward investment. We need to do everything we can to maximise the potential for local people and businesses to benefit, and an injunction will be a great help with that.”
From bad manners to environmental terrorism to tree sitting, the instinct to “leave it in the ground” or “restore it” is nothing more than proof of H.L. Mencken’s quote: “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” Or, for that matter, George Carlin’s: “And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet. Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care ourselves yet.”
Even worse, some energy and communication activists have taken to picketing the homes and families of federal agencies executives and private sector leaders. It is being treated like it is morally, legalized stalking. Civility is nowhere in sight.