The Bentley Effect, a film about how huge numbers of people from all walks of life stood up to a fracking company in New South Wales, was seen by a packed Pannal Village Hall on Saturday 13th January. A river on fire with methane, open holding ponds of toxic waste water in deteriorating pond liners, but above all the strength of community – the film, organised by Frack Free Harrogate District, showed that government-backed corporate power can be overcome when there is a moral imperative.
Two protectors, Leigh Coghill and Eddie Thornton, showed a short film from Kirby Misperton and answered questions, inspiring the audience with their dedication, and Tracie Marcelle’s photos of the hundreds from all social strata who have protested at the gate covered a whole wall. Many felt moved and empowered to take further action to stop this devastating industry.
Report by Judy Birkbeck
Fracking visit gave a different picture – see here
“WE need to paint a picture for local people to show them that [fracking can be done without industrialising the countryside]. At the moment, we are losing the PR war.”.
Is this a quote from fossil fuel industry, keen to foist fracking on a sceptical public? Or perhaps from the Westminster government, wishing to test out this controversial technique on the North? No – it’s from our own MP, Kevin Hollinrake, in a debate in Parliament on December 15, declaring war on his constituents.
Having heard that Mr Hollinrake was reassured by his visit to Pennsylvania, my wife and I decided to visit the same areas and meet some of the same people, hoping that we would be similarly reassured. We were not reassured. We met people with poisoned water sources, heard stories of a decimated tourist industry, found out about the boom-and-bust impact with itinerant workers swarming through then moving on, of residents taking sides and communities being ripped apart in bitter quarrels.
The big corporations had arrived with stories of being good neighbours, of tucking themselves away in quiet corners, of it all being different from what had happened in other US states. Isn’t this the same story Mr Hollinrake is now peddling to us? Was his Pennsylvania visit just a sham part of his self-proclaimed “PR war”? The people he visited in Pennsylvania certainly think so.
Steven White, Great Edstone