These would be the words I would choose if I’d have to describe my impressions about the “Ineos, Fracking and You” speakers tour that took place in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, North England, in February 2018 — a tour that gave me the opportunity to meet and work with fantastic campaigners and activists (Tony Bosworth, Chris Crean, Simon Bowens and Pollyanna Steiner from FoE EWNI, Steve Mason from Frack Free United, Kit Bennet from Frack Free York, Carol Hutchinson and Dave Kesteven from Eckington Against Fracking, Peter Roberts from Frack Free Ryedale, Matthew Trevelyan from Farmers Against Fracking, Eddie Thornton and Leigh Coghill from the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp as well as Bishop Graham Gray and many many more).
I also had the opportunity to engage with local communities threatened by possible shale development and to share the key findings of our three issue briefs on UK’s biggest wannabe-fracker, petrochemical giant Ineos.
“The Trans-Atlantic Plastics Pipeline: How Pennsylvania’s Fracking Boom Crosses the Atlantic” issue brief explains the link between fracked US hydrocarbons and plastic production in Europe. The Ineos dragon ships crossing the Atlantic draped with “Shale Gas for Europe” banners are leaving more than a toxic legacy in Europe — they are proliferating fracking in Pennsylvania, a state that already has struggled enough with the impacts of oil and gas industry pollution
Our second issue brief “Chemical Billionaire’s Bid for Fossil Fuel Empire” discloses the history and corporate profile of the Ineos Group, a heavy debt-loaded, tangled maze of holding companies, subsidiaries and offshore branches, with Ineos Ltd., the ultimate parent company at its core, based on the Isle of Man, a low-tax offshore finance centre. Over the past dozen years, Ineos has transformed from a global chemical powerhouse into an oil, fossil fuel gas and petrochemical conglomerate. Ineos’ expansion into oil, gas and pipelines now supplies its refineries, power production and petrochemical plants and their number of shale licenses makes them UK’s number one wannabe-fracker.
Since the company tries to downplay the risks of fracking, we’ve examined their existing environmental record in our third issue brief, “Ineos’ Chequered Environmental Track Record in Europe”. The company has operated chemical plants for nearly two decades, but in that short time many of its facilities have been bedeviled by environmental problems. Its dozens of manufacturing facilities across Europe have been responsible for releases of toxic chemicals, leaks, fires and explosions that have endangered workers, communities and the environment.
The “Ineos, Fracking and You“ seven-day tour gave us the chance to educate and talk to local groups in Yorkshire and Derbyshire in packed rooms as people learned about the negative impacts shale development would have in their region.
Ineos won’t be able to convince the people and local councils that fracking or shale development will benefit anyone else but Ineos and its plastics and petrochemical businesses. And Ineos is – quite obviously – so desperate that the company sees no other way but to bully its way into fracking the UK. The fact that it is taking the National Trust to court in order to force access to the protected Clumber Park confirms their great desperation. And only a fool would ever dare to threaten the Sherwood Forest and “God’s Own Country“ (another common name for Yorkshire) with the fracking plague.
But the people won’t have fracking for plastics in their area! And the people won’t bow down to Ineos or its CEO, Jim Ratcliffe.
The anti-fracking movement in the UK is broad and very diversified. From environmental NGOs and local activists and fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré, to big landowners who back the National Trust, they all stand united saying: Frack off Ineos!
We still have to go down a difficult road but we are definitely at a decisive turning point in the anti-fracking movement in the UK.
United we will stop Ineos and ban fracking in the UK! The time is right and the time is now.