Green MEP launches South East anti-drilling guide during visit to Surrey

Green Party MEP Keith Taylor launched his new campaigner’s guide to drilling, acidisation and fracking in the South East during a visit to Surrey on Tuesday, 18 April.

Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee and a vocal anti-drilling campaigner, visited the Leith Hill and Horse Hill drill sites in Dorking and Horley to offer his support and share his ‘activists’ guide’ with local residents fighting drilling in their communities.

The pamphlet outlines the details of various drill sites across the region, with no less than five active licences in Surrey; including, Albury Park, Brockham, Leith Hill, Horse Hill and Bletchingley.

The guide also highlights what Keith Taylor believes is the oil and gas industry’s ‘well-kept secret’: acidisation. Acidisation is a stimulation technique which shares many of the same risks as fracking but is less well understood by the public and loosely defined by the industry.

Speaking to campaigners, Keith said:

“The reality is, the more people learn about these unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques the more they are opposed to having drilling operations in their neighbourhood.”

A number of campaigners at both the Horse Hill and Leith Hill sites voiced concerns to Mr Taylor over police ‘intimidation’ of protesters – an issue the Green Party MEP has previously raised with Surrey PCC David Munro.

In response to campaigners’ concerns, Keith promised to raise the issue again, adding:

“I was very alarmed to read the recent NetPol report  about the intimidation of drilling and fracking protesters. And it’s clear from talking to people today, they are still worried about their rights and whether they’re allowed to come to drill sites and even whether they’re allowed to protest at all. It really seems like the police are tilting the balance between protecting people’s right to protest and the right of companies to carry out their activities. I think a line has been crossed and I’m hearing some very worrying stories.”

Asked what more local communities can do, Keith said:

“It’s always fantastic to meet with the dedicated campaigners resisting fossil fuel extraction across Surrey. I’ve heard admirable stories of determined local campaigners who are demonstrating that they care about what is happening in their local areas. They, rightly, reject the view that what is good for the corporation is good for the community.”

“The proposals across the county not only risk damaging our local environment and health but are also an unwelcome distraction from the work that must be done to build a sustainable future based on a clean, democratic energy system.”

“We have to carry on fighting for our communities and for our heritage; it belongs to us, it’s what we know, and it’s what we love. The corporations are interested in taking the profit, but it’s the communities that pay the price.”

Following the drill site visits, Keith attending a performance of FRACKED! Or: Please Don’t use the F-Word at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

FRACKED! is a comedy about fracking starring James Bolam and Anne Reid.

After the performance, Keith met with the writer Alistair Beaton and the play’s stars, including Anne Reid.

Writing in the programme, Alistair Beaton said of fracking:

“The more I learn about it, the more horrified I am by the risks it poses to the environment. In that regard, I suppose FRACKED! is a satire on the whole damnable business. But if it is a satire, it is perhaps unusual in being a satire that at least gives a voice to the side that is being satirized. Greed and vanity and stupidity are nothing new.”

Speaking after the play, Keith, who first saw it during its debut run at the Chichester Festival, added:

“FRACKED! is even better the second time around and I’m delighted to see it come to Surrey. The fact the play is on tour is fantastic; it just shows how strong the feeling is against fracking across the UK. It doesn’t hurt that Alistair Beaton is a superb writer, that Anne Reid is wonderful, and that the story rings true to life for the equally wonderful James Bolam, who successfully campaigned against fracking in his own community.”