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Frack Free Formby

Local protest groups shock as peaceful ‘anti-fracking’ campaigners linked to domestic extremism.

Groups opposed to shale gas operations in Merseyside and the surrounding areas are calling for the removal of all references to anti-fracking protesters in counter-terrorism strategies after new documents have been revealed.

Anti-fracking groups from Liverpool, Formby and Southport say that linking shale gas opponents to extremism, is undermining the right to peaceful protest.

Public documents from Yorkshire and other parts of the UK have included anti-fracking protests on lists of terrorism risk alongside armed groups such as the so-called Islamic State.

The documents, many of them uncovered by researcher Russell Scott, include training materials and guidance compiled by councils, police forces and schools, including Sefton Local Safeguarding Children Board, as part of the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent. Prevent was re-launched in 2011 by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary and aims to identify people who may be at risk of radicalisation or being drawn into terrorism.

The findings have already left one Yorkshire police force, the City of York council and schools scrambling to issue apologies and revise their ‘Prevent’ procedures to remove any mention of the ‘anti-fracking’ movement as extremists.

The Home Office has recently confirmed:

“Prevent is about safeguarding people at risk of being drawn into terrorism – support for anti-fracking is not an indicator of vulnerability.”

Three Sefton residents, Laurence Rankin, Tony Young and Lesley Graham were founding members of the very first grassroots group to form in England to oppose the threat of Cuadrilla fracking close to the Ribble Estuary in Banks August 2011.

Simon Maxwell from Frack Free Formby said:

“The anti-fracking movement is all about peaceful protest so to link us to terrorist organisations is outrageous. All the people I know who oppose fracking are law-abiding people from all walks of life who share the same concerns about the damage that fracking will inflict on our health, environment and communities. Protecting and caring for the integrity of the land, water and air of the region for future generations is the opposite of what terrorism and extremism implies. It is wrong that we who care for our region are being tarnished in such a way.

We are not extremists and I ask that the Government and the police remove all references to anti-fracking campaigners from all Prevent policies and training materials with immediate effect.”

Bill Esterson, MP for Sefton Central said:

“Labour opposes fracking because we need to cut our reliance on oil and gas. Britain has signed the Paris Climate Change agreement and to meet our obligations we can’t rely on fossil fuels like fracking. We need to invest in new technology in wind, tidal power and solar power and I am very worried that the Conservative government has removed support for renewable energy. To say that anti-fracking protestors are a security threat is clearly a nonsense. The Conservatives and their Lib-Dem supporters in government over the last 6 years, said they wanted to reduce the impact on climate change. But they can’t have it both ways. Supporting fracking makes it harder to combat climate change and it is time for the Conservatives to accept that fracking is not the answer and that those of us who oppose fracking are right.

Labour will be pressing for jobs to be created and for businesses to be supported in the Liverpool City region developing new technology in tidal energy, in wind energy and in solar. It is time for other parties to do the same for the good of our economy and for the good of our planet.”

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