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Caroline Lucas: Why fracking should be banned
9:21am Monday 21st April 2014 in News
AS an MP, I’m in the privileged position of being able to make the case against fracking in Parliament.
I’ve tabled motions, championed debates, and put questions to the Prime Minister – and will continue to do so.
But the Government is ignoring the evidence, and is set on a reckless and irresponsible new dash for gas, offering the fossil fuel companies generous tax breaks as well as senior roles within Government itself.
Balcombe, in a Sussex area of natural beauty, was one of the first places in the UK to be earmarked as a potential fracking site.
Yet fracking will accelerate climate change, pollute our environment and lock us into yet more dependence on fossil fuels at precisely the time when we need to be moving in the opposite direction.
That’s why I, and many others, took part in peaceful protests outside the Cuadrilla site in August last year.
My acquittal and that of the four other co-defendants on Friday is a huge relief, but it is by no means a cause for celebration.
That will only happen when David Cameron announces an end to fracking, as has been achieved in other countries like France, and will put investment instead into cleaner, greener energy sources.
The case at Brighton Magistrates’ Court raised questions not just about fracking, but about police tactics too.
I appreciate the hugely difficult job the police have to do, and the challenges in facilitating peaceful protest, and often Sussex Police get the balance absolutely right.
However, on August 19, the day of our arrest, the police leadership clearly got it wrong.
In delivering his verdict, the judge said that the conditions imposed on people at the Balcombe protest on that day were unlawful, since the senior police officer was not authorised to issue the conditions, and they were so vague and unclear as to be meaningless.
Moreover, the policing seemed arbitrary and disproportionate.
The fact that, during the summer protests at Balcombe, of around 126 people arrested, and 114 charged, there have been only around 27 convictions, suggests that many of the arrests were unnecessary, and many cases should quite simply not have come to court at all.
There is no evidence that they were in the public interest, and a huge amount of money and resources were wasted, when both are in short supply.
The campaign against fracking will continue until the Government finally listens.
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