Monday, 15 July 2013

Will we let Sussex be fracked by the system?

Will there one day be “no spot of English ground left, on which it shall be possible to stand, without a definite and calculable chance of being blown off it, at any moment, into small pieces”?

The quotation comes from a speech made by John Ruskin to the Mechanics’ Institute in Bradford on March 1, 1859.*

Despite all the industrial devastation we have seen since – much of it, of course, outsourced to other parts of the world – this specific warning still sounds like an exaggeration.

However, a century and a half later England is facing a threat on that sort of scale. Explosions, earthquakes, poisoned air, chemical pollution and tap water that bursts into flames – these are all side-effects of fracking, the nightmarish form of gas extraction being imposed on this country.

The scale of what is likely to be unleashed doesn’t seem to have percolated through to the general public yet. It’s not just a well here and there across the countryside we’re talking about, but a saturation level of environmental exploitation.

Campaign group Frack Off reports that in Balcombe, West Sussex “at a spacing of 4 wells per square mile, full scale development could mean 32 wells within the parish and over 300 within 5 miles of the village. Cuadrilla have produced no estimates, but at a spacing of 4 wells per square mile development could mean up to 1,200 wells in Cuadrilla’s licence blocks in Sussex. Possibly more for shale gas development. A vast network of pipelines, compressor stations and processing plants would be needed to support such a development”.

And they add that another fracking firm, Celtique Energy, “have been bragging extensively about the shale oil and gas they hope to be able to extract. The volume of oil and gas they are promising to shareholders would require over 6,000 shale gas wells and 800 shale oil wells in West Sussex”.

And that’s just one corner. A staggering 64% of England is considered suitable for fracking. Imagine the scale of extraction proposed for a few small areas of West Sussex, but replicated across the country! Take a look of aerial photos of parts of the USA or Australia where the frackers have been at work (see top image). That’s what England could be reduced to in a few decades’ time.

And how about those of us who live here? Maybe our homes will have collapsed in a fracking-induced earthquake like the ones in Blackpool.

Maybe we will be suffering from early-onset dementia caused by the poisoning of our air or our drinking water.

Maybe we’ll even have been burnt to death after the water from our taps caught fire. Nothing is too outlandish to come true in the fracked-up world of shale energy.

The whole thing goes a lot further than this, of course. Think of all the tankers and works traffic constantly using these thousands of sites. Think of the new access roads that will have to be built over our countryside, all the rest of the infrastructure.

And when we’re always being encouraged to save water, how are the millions of gallons needed for fracking going to suddenly become available for the industry to poison and squander?

The threat of fracking is clearly so huge and so horrific that a massive uprising of pubic anger and opposition is needed to defeat it.

Various attempts are underway. But the trouble is that, as ever, opponents are not just up against a few energy companies pushing specific projects. They are up against the whole of the corporate system, the global capitalist system, which is promoting fracking and hell-bent on imposing it on England and anywhere else they can.

The links between the fracking industry and the government (or, if you prefer, between capitalism and the state which it uses to enforce and legitimise its monopoly of wealth) are not even very well hidden.

Lord Browne, a director of fracking firm Cuadrilla, was appointed to the Cabinet Office in June 2010 by Francis Maude, who happens to be MP for Cuadrilla's first Sussex fracking-target, Balcombe.

Fracking is specifically supported by the G8 group of “world leaders” and was rumoured to have been on the agenda at the secretive Bilderberg meeting in the UK earlier this summer.

This official pro-fracking line (which does not stem in any way from the “democracy” in which we are always told we are lucky to be basking) has been reflected in a series of pro-fracking stories planted in the press, with arch-capitalist and climate change denier Lord Lawson warning solemnly of the dangers of being “held to ransom by green fanaticism”.

As Britain’s most-read newspaper (and draw your own conclusions as to what that says about this country and its residents), it was clearly important that The Sun was involved and it has been spewing forth a seemingly endless deluge of pro-fracking propaganda, full of talk of a “fracking goldmine” which offers the “hope of solving future energy problems and giving a £4billion-a-year boost to the economy”.

Combining its pro-fracking stance with its anti-EU one, The Sun also accused the European Parliament’s environment committee of trying to “strangle shale gas exploration with red tape”.

The Mail on Sunday weighed in with its own rabidly pro-fracking piece: “Dirty tricks of the fracking deniers: How Green zealots peddle cynical propaganda to stop Britain mining £3trillion of shale gas...enough to keep the lights on for 141 YEARS”

It’s unlikely that the capitalist system will stop at media mind-manipulation to force through fracking. No doubt even now, special units of political police are being set up to infiltrate, monitor, control, undermine and destroy the opposition to fracking.

If the bribes don’t work and resistance steps up to the level of direct action, the Mail’s “green zealots” will become “eco-terrorists” and new laws will have to passed to put down the revolt.

This is the reality faced by all “single-issue” campaigns, such as that against fracking – ultimately it’s the whole system you’re up against.

That’s obviously why so many people who start fighting one particular threat to our lives and happiness end up with a wider perspective that enables them to see the bigger picture.

The bigger picture here is that the capitalist-industrialist system will never voluntarily give up destroying the planet for its own gain and ruthlessly using all its considerable power to ensure nobody gets in its way.

The bigger picture is that in fighting fracking, or road-building, or new airports, or nuclear power, we are fighting the system.

And the biggest picture is that we can’t permanently win any of those battles until we have confronted the monster itself, until we have stood up together and said there is more that we value than its obscene obsession with profit, its deadly addiction to “growth” and its poisonous path of “progress”.

Only once we have driven a stake through the heart of this planetary parasite can we recover the life and the future that it has so cruelly stolen from us all.

By Paul Cudenec. Reposted from

* There’s a longer section of Ruskin’s speech in The Anarchist Revelation.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Protest against roadbuilding on July 13!

A national rally against roadbuilding is to be held in East Sussex on Saturday July 13.

Nationally, there are plans afoot to build hundreds of miles of new roads, at a cost of at least £30bn. Catastrophic climate change, devastating species loss and huge cuts in public spending notwithstanding, George Osborne is determined that these roads must be built.

Come to the beautiful Combe Valley in East Sussex on Saturday July 13, site of the proposed Bexhill Hastings Link Road - the 'first and worst' of the new roads - to say NO to this destruction.

Rally, route walks and a chance to meet others who are determined to stop this madness. Organised by Campaign for Better Transport, Combe Haven Defenders and Hastings Alliance, supported by Greenpeace, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), CPRE Sussex, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and Bexhill Link Road Resistance (Blinkrr).

Come to this unique event and:

* take a guided walk through the historic Combe Haven – a chance to see a beautiful valley targeted for destruction
* learn more about the campaign to save the valley, and about plans for more than 200 new roads around the country
* meet campaigners and speakers from national and local groups
* get information about how you can take action to help stop a new roads programme becoming a national disaster.
* enjoy music and poetry, food and drink and activities for all ages
Facebook event page:

Times and places:

Rally: Sat July 13, 2pm to 5pm, Crowhurst Recreation Ground, East Sussex (speakers from 3pm)

Chapel Hill, Crowhurst, East Sussex (15 mins walk from Crowhurst railway station, near the Plough Inn).

Route walk A: Meet at 11.45am, Bexhill railway station (trains arrive from London at 11.39, Brighton at 11.24 and Ashford/Hastings at 11.23). A five-mile guided walk closely following the route of the new road.

Route walk B: Meet at 12pm, West St Leonards railway station (trains arrive from London at 11.51 and from Hastings at 11.56). A six-mile guided walk through the eastern parts of the Combe Haven valley.

Route walk C: Meet at 12pm Crowhurst recreation ground. A guided five mile circular walk with good views of the valley.

Short walks from the rally site:
Shorter walks from the recreation ground along the 1066 Bexhill Walk route into the valley will also be conducted during the afternoon.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Reign of Corruption


WAS anyone really surprised when the Conservative Party declared what The Daily Telegraph referred to as a "war on the countryside" in which property developers will be given pretty much free rein and effectively be subsidised by the state?

Did anyone really believe that this political party is steered by a set of values, amongst which is the protection of the environment? Did anyone believe, for that matter, that when the Labour Party came to power six years before the invasion of Iraq it was really committed to pursuing an “ethical foreign policy”?

Anyone who has paying the slightest bit of attention can see that the “principles” which these parties flaunt when they are fighting election campaigns are nothing but empty lies.

And yet the media, and therefore a certain part of the population, continue to treat their representatives as they are genuinely involved in some great battle of ideas, as if they are truly motivated by the slick reasons and excuses they present to the public.

The BBC for instance, will often say that the government “believes” such and such to be the correct solution, or that the prime minister “believes” he was right to act in a certain way. 

What they are really reporting is that the government or prime minister says they believe something, but by missing out that all-important division between the politician’s statement and the BBC’s reporting of it, they are endorsing that statement and telling us that our authority figures can always be assumed to be telling the truth. The trust that the public (for some reason!) has in the BBC is therefore projected, subtly, on to the government or minister.

In fact, politicians are rarely truthful about their actual beliefs, if indeed they have any. Naked greed, self-interest and power-lust, bolstered by bribery, flattery and blackmail, are their only values and principles. We are living under a reign of corruption, where the most venal and ruthless hold all the wealth and the power that it commands.

We do not live in a democracy. We live in a plutocracy which disguises itself as a democracy in order to keep the population pacified.

The disease which we term capitalism has only one aim, and that is to continue to grow and spread. It is not based on principles or values or judgements, and neither are the politicians, journalists and cops who serve it.

It does not care about the countryside or the environment, or the future of life on the planet. It does not care about people’s health or wellbeing. It is happy to preside over war, torture, slavery, pollution – anything that is necessary to maintain its own cancerous growth.

It cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be reformed. It has to be destroyed.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Combe Haven Rising!

Combe Haven Rising: A Week of Activities, Exhibitions, Valley Walks and Workshops Against the Link Road!
Spring is coming, birds are nesting, the sap is rising and so rises the NO LINK ROAD CAMPAIGN.  Combe Haven Rising is a week of events co-hosted by The Combe Haven Defenders, Artists and Combe Valley, Crowhurst Villagers and Hastings Arts Forum.
Here’s what’s in store:

Fri 15th March:
Adrian Arbib: Solsbury Hill, a road protest in AF2
Private View, 6.30- 8.30pm Arts Forum, 36 Marina St. Leonards, TN38 0BU
rebelliousmediaSat 16th March:
Activist Media Training, 2-5.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 5 South Terrace, Hastings,TN34 1SA
Sun 17th March:
Eyes in the Valley Walk. Walking the route of the road. Meet at West St Leonards train station at 11.30 am. Walk ends at the Plough pub, Crowhurst. Approximately 6 miles long, rail replacement buses or taxi’s (£12) available for return.
angry treeArtists & Combe Valley Open Event 6-8 p.m. The Memorial Art Gallery, 7 Cambridge Road, Hastings TN34 1DG
rebelliousmediaMon 18th March:
Adrian Arbib talking about the 1990s roads protests and their legacy.
Arts Forum, 6.30 – 8pm
Events put on and supported by:
Combe Haven Defenders, Artists and Combe Haven, The Arts Forum, Crowhurst Villagers, BLINKRR and Hastings Alliance

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Combe Haven - camp evictions begin

COURAGEOUS countryside defenders have set up a camp at Combe Haven in East Sussex, but now the authorities are threatening to use force on them to impose the demands of capitalist 'growth' on the Sussex countryside.

There was a time when the authorities pretended that new roads were needed to "prevent congestion" on existing routes, but now they seem to be much more blatant about the business agenda behind this destruction of our natural environment, with the county council saying the Bexhill link road is essential to "regenerate" the economy.

Note how natural and organic-sounding words like "growth", "regenerate" and, indeed, "development" are used to mean the exact opposite of what is really involved - in this case chopping down ancient trees and putting Tarmac all over our green fields in the name of profit.

The Combe Haven Defenders site said on January 14 that contractors had moved in in force that day to evict the “Three Oaks” camp near the railway line opposite. Upper Wilting Farm in Crowhurst (see press release below), and that police had told activists that they plan to evict the remaining two camps (“Decoy Pond Wood” and “Base Camp” – see map below) this week.

Supporters are being urged to get down there fast!