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Date posted: 18 April 2014
Press release, 18 April 2014: A group of activists, including Christian Ecology Link trustee and Operation Noah board member Ruth Jarman and Caroline Lucas MP, were found not guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court on Thursday 17th April, for taking part in a peaceful protest at the Balcombe drilling site in August 2013. All five defendants were found not guilty for activities contrary to Section 14 of The Public Order Act 1986 and obstruction of the highway.
All five have used their time in court to share their reasons for protesting against fracking. A joint statement, given as they left the court, said, ‘We have made our case and stood up for what we believe in … Fracking will not lower our fuel bills, it will not give us energy security, and it will not create significant numbers of jobs. Fracking will accelerate climate change, pollute our environment and is an economic dead end. David Cameron must listen to the scientists rather than his ministers and advisors who work for Cuadrilla and the oil industry … We would all like to thank all of the supporters who have come to court and the thousands who have sent messages of support.’
Leaving the court after the verdict on Thursday, Ruth Jarman said, ‘To take a peaceful stand against the madness of drilling for oil and gas in the British countryside, when we already have enough fossil fuel to wreck God’s creation five times over, should not be illegal. This verdict is the right one. It was a privilege to take a moral stand with dynamic, principled people, in resisting a technology that threatens God’s creation and our children’s future.
‘The Christian faith has a long history of non-violent acts of resistance, as a means of speaking truth to power. For me, this was about the integrity of my discipleship of Jesus Christ – I had to resist evil.
I hope our acquittal will encourage people to courageously campaign by all peaceful means necessary to switch the direction of our country from dangerous fossil fuels to clean forms of energy. The Zero Carbon Britain event last week, ‘How can renewables keep the lights on?’ showed how this is possible. The village of Balcombe is now leading the way on solar power with its plans to become zero carbon in electricity within two years. An alternative future is possible. We simply need to pray and protest it into being. I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and messages of support.’
Chris Walton, Editor of Christian Ecology Link’s magazine, Green Christian, said, ‘Through the centuries Christian prophetic resistance has required great intentionality, embodied in concrete disciplines of body, mind and heart. Our conviction that the present global use of fossil fuels is destroying God’s creation leads us to speak out by non-violent acts of resistance.’
Isabel Carter, Chair of Operation Noah, said, ‘The IPCC report on mitigation published this week says that investment in the fossil fuel industry must fall by $30 billion a year until 2030 if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. Knowing this, each one of us has a God-given duty to help make this happen. Ways of doing this include supporting Operation Noah’s Bright Now disinvestment campaign or through non-violent protest against new fossil fuel extraction.’
The five took part in peaceful protest as part of the ‘Reclaim the Power’ camp near Balcombe, 16th-20th August 2013. The camp was a response to the call for support from the community in Balcombe opposing fracking. The participants share the serious concerns of Balcombe residents about the environmental and social impacts of fossil fuel extraction in the Balcombe area. Balcombe was seen as a test case for the fracking industry which, if it had been successful, would have paved the way for fracking rigs on up to two thirds of the UK.
The last of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) three ‘working group’ reports was published on Monday 14th April in Berlin, the third and final instalment of the IPCC’s comprehensive review of climate change research, known as the fifth assessment report. Speaking at the launch, IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said, ‘The high-speed mitigation train needs to leave the station very soon and all of global society needs to get on board.’
New research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 14th April 2014, indicates that the climate impact of fracking might be greater than previously thought. Researchers examined methane leakage from fracking wells in south-western Pennsylvania. They concluded that methane was being released into the atmosphere at rates that were 100 to 1,000 times greater than estimated by US regulators, raising very serious questions about the impact of fracking on the climate.