The anti-federal government activists led by Ammon Bundy is getting a lot of media attention but there’s another group of people who’ve been doing the same thing for a lot longer with much less attention. A rag tag group of anti-fracking activists in England have occupied a piece of land for two years, fortifying it with an elaborate array of moats, tunnels, and walls, all in an effort to keep public officials from evicting them.
The protesters have occupied the piece of property in Cheshire, England, for nearly two years, since April of 2014.
If they do not vacate the area soon IGas, the energy company that has rights to the area, may run out of time to survey the land for natural gas extraction. The company has a permission note to survey the land until May, after that the company must consider other options.
The protesters claimed in a court hearing last November that the they were given permission to be on the land, a claim the court’s judge, Judge David Hodge QC, called unbelievable and “incredible beyond belief.”
“It does not seem it can be in the best interest of any child to live at the camp,” Judge Hodge told the protesters in November. To which, one of the squatters, Phil Whyte, replied: “I live on that camp and I have done now for 16 months, so now I will have to find somewhere else to live.”
Not swayed by the judge’s decree or by IGas’ permission note, the anti-frackers remain at the site, dug in like ticks, fortifying the area with a complicated series of tunnels, walls, towers, and a rigged together moat.
One of the squatters, referred to as Adam by the BBC, told reporters that his fellow protesters will not let the cops or public officials have the land. In an effort to make it more difficult for the government to evict them, Adam, according to reporters, plans on clamoring atop a rickety tower made of particleboard on the site, and chaining himself to it.
When asked if he was putting his life on the line, Adam said: “Well yeah, of course I am,” but added, “It’s my life saving a thousand lives.”
The U.K.’s decision to hand out new fracking licenses in December, in spite of environmentalist’s disapproval, has animated anti-fracking activists in the country, leaving protesters sprawling.
“The people of Lancashire and the local authority already rejected fracking back in June,” Furqan Naeem, spokesperson for anti-fracking group Friends of the Earth North West, said about the government’s decision to advance fracking licenses.
He added: “yet the government is intent on subjecting our communities to potential harm from this risky industry.”
With all the controversy surrounding fracking, the protesters in Cheshire feel good about their ability to keep the cops away, and at the same time repel the efforts of energy companies looking to extract natural gas from the site.
Dr. Steven Peers, a spokesperson for the protesters, told BBC that the protesters believe they “can hold this for a significant period – weeks if not months”
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Photo by Gwydion M. Williams