Image Credit: Oxford Climate Justice Campaign/Facebook
With the arrival of the recent news that fracking will restart in the UK this weekend following a seven year hiatus, a protest formed in Radcliffe square to protest government policy on fracking, both at a local and national level. A group of sixteen people from environmental activism groups in Oxford including Reclaim the Power, the Oxford Climate Justice Campaign and Oxfordshire Fossil Free, set up a model fracking rig outside the Radcliffe Camera to criticise proposed changes in planning regulations to ‘permitted development’, a category generally associated with minor home improvements, requiring no specific planning permission from local authorities.
The Group claim that this change would make getting permission for fracking no more difficult than acquiring permission to set up a garden shed, effectively allowing companies to frack wherever with minimal permission requirements. Outside the library, this point was driven home by the protesters, dressed up as Fracking engineers, chanting “we don’t need permission to be here”, whilst also highlighting the dangers of fracking by sarcastically warning spectators to “beware of tremors, but they aren’t anything to worry about”.
Following the protest the group published a statement on Facebook, stating that “Although the geology of Oxfordshire makes it quite unlikely we would be of actual interest to fracking companies, we have already seen the local council decisions of our friends up in Lancashire overturned in favour of a fracking company’s search for gas and profit. We, in Oxford, stand forever in solidarity with frontline communities facing fracking and we say: #LetCommunitiesDecide.”
The protest comes amid a week in which the UN warned that there are 12 years to limit catastrophic climate change, while a week of protests nationally organised by the Let Communities Decide campaign saw the same rig set up outside of Westminster on Monday. The group argues against Fracking both from an environmental, and political standpoint, claiming that local authorities and people should have the final say on this issue rather than central government. Previous protests by associated groups in this latest protest include disrupting the Varsity boat race, demanding “Oxbridge divest from fossil fuels”, while students have also stood on the steps of the Radcliffe Camera covered in oil to protest of university investment of its ‘£5 billion endowment like a corporation, seeking to maximize returns regardless of the social and environmental cost.’
The Oxford Climate Justice campaign will be meeting on Wednesday 17th October to discuss further plans for the year.