An estimated two thousand people marched through the centre of Manchester today in what was probably the largest ever anti-fracking gathering ever seen in the United Kingdom. Activists converged on the city from Lancashire, Yorkshire, London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, claiming Manchester was today the “capital of the so-called bleak and desolate north“.
The march was led by Bianca Jagger, who addressed the crowd at the Castlefield Arena by saying “I’m here not only as the founder and president of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, but as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother because I feel fracking is a real threat to our way of life, it’s a threat to our environment, it’s a threat to our water sources, it’s a threat to the air we breathe, it’s a threat to everything we think is important in our lives.”
Green Party candidate for the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Deyika Nzeribe, speaking in the rain at the start of the march, said “The Green Party vision, my vision, for a Northern Powerhouse is one powered by clean, green, renewable energy, produced here in the north and which creates more jobs per pound invested than shale gas ever can; clean energy powered by its people, its wind, waves and sun…well, daylight if not sun!”
MP for Leigh and Makersfield, and Labour Party candidate for the Mayor, Andy Burnham received some of the laudest applause of the day for saying “I can’t support fracking in Leigh, in Greater Manchester or anywhere.”
John Ashton, the former Foreign Office Special Representative for Climate Change, until he resigned in 2002, spoke about his namesake, John Ashton, who died at Peterloo, and made the comparison with this march. He also called on the membership of the GMB and Community trade unions to rise up and overturn their leadership’s support for fracking.
There was a video message from Emma Thompson, who thanked what she called the “investor removal teams” – activists who, by their opposition to fracking at sites such as Barton Moss to Balcombe, have made sure that the big money has stayed away from shale gas.
Angie Duriez, Worsley resident, said “We’re here to protect our water and environment, fracking is an unknown technology and wherever it’s taken place it’s had serious costs on the communities. Where I live and swathes of Gr Manchester have been licensed for potential fracking, and it’s down to us to ensure it never gets a foothold here.“
Helen Dryden from Wigan said “Climate change for me is the number one reason to oppose fracking. If we don’t take urgent action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and move away from fossil fuels, we will condemn future generations and the poorest countries to dangerous climate change. The people who will suffer most from climate change don’t have a voice. We have a responsibility to use our voice against fracking and the fossil fuel industry, and to call for clean energy revolution“.
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Martin Porter 07546230225