What's a moratorium?
At midnight on 2 November 2019 the UK government called a moratorium on fracking in England. A moratorium technically means a "temporary ban" on a certain action. It’s often a significant stepping stone on the path to a permanent ban (just look at the case of GM crops in Scotland).
The government announcement of a moratorium on fracking followed 8 years of protests, arrests, demonstrations, remonstrations, letters, emails, tears, rightful fears, and community organising. It was a battle akin to David and Goliath.
Personally, I remember standing outside Lancashire County Council when the initial application was rejected back in 2015. We shared tears of joy thinking we had won that sunny afternoon. Little did we know that we’d come up against Westminster and have to win all over again.
The fight needn’t have carried on so long. The government could have backed a better, cleaner horse from the offset. But it didn’t. In their bid to go all out for fracking, the government divided itself, but it also did an unintentionally wonderful thing at the same time: it united communities.
And now it feels like we did it. The moratorium has been given no deadline, and the government will be hard pressed to weaken regulations amidst so much political and public pressure.
I’ve been proud, along with many colleagues at Friends of the Earth, to stand alongside the real heroes of this story. Tina Louise Rothery, one of the stalwart Blackpool Nanas, is one of them. In her message to me on Saturday, she wrote:
"We may all have had different approaches, methods and expectations of where the solution would come from… Harmony didn't mean singing the same tune, but drawing what we needed from each other to nourish the symphony.
"Getting a tad poetic because my heart is currently swimming in gratitude and joy. It's been a bloody hard, long few years but I would do it all again for the beauty of the friendships and the admiration I have for my fellow campaigners in all their unique and glorious individuality. We can save the world one shared campaign aim at a time."
3 actions on fracking that now need to happen
A permanent ban on fracking. Whatever happens in parliament over the next few months, we need the UK government to move towards a full and permanent ban.
An end to all unconventional gas and drilling. Unconventional drilling basically means using extreme methods (such as acidization) to extract oil and gas. Parts of the country, including the South East and East Yorkshire, are fighting permits granted to drill for oil. The next government must accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy by ending all support for oil, gas and coal development.
Not here, not anywhere. We recently uncovered reports of UK government plans to invest in fracking in the Vaca Muerta area of Argentina. Fracking, wherever it happens, involves the burning of fossil fuels, which contributes to climate breakdown. We must demand that the UK government supports a "not here, not anywhere" policy towards fracking.
Time is running out to tackle the climate emergency. The next government must throw its full weight behind the development of the UK’s vast renewable energy potential if we’re to reach a net zero emissions economy.
But for now, there’s a real sense that it’s game over for fracking in England. It’s time to celebrate what has been achieved so far.
Inspired by this community win? Why not join a Climate Action group and work with others to make your local area greener and more sustainable for everyone.
A version of this article was published by Blackpool Gazette on Monday 11 November 2019.