IN CONVERSATION : BECKY AND JOSHUA AT MAPLE FARM NURSERY, PRESTON NEW ROAD

 

20170917_164307

The entrance to Maple Farm Nursery, now anti-fracking hub on the Preston New Road.

 

AUDIO Coming soon

Becky, with Joshua, tells me about her journey to Preston New Road, the anti-fracking effort in Fylde, and the urgency of our situation.


TRANSCRIPT

B: Hello …

JO: Hello Joshua .. it was Joshua, wasn’t it?

B: Hello Josh

J: Hello.

JO: And Joshua, if you want to chip in …

B: feel free …

JO: if Mum thinks it’s alright

B: yes.. that’s fine

JO: sounds like you need the experience … no? I thought you wanted to run a little indie media company?

B: he does … he’s spoken on … up at the side of the road … when Reclaim the Power were here ..

JO: yes

B: he spoke on the PA machine

JO: wicked …

B: and when we went to a grassroots festival last week …

J: I think I’m like ….

B: a couple of people recognised him and were like, “oh my God, you’re Joshua! From Preston New Road” and he was like “yes. I am.”

JO: you’re big …

B: he is

JO: big in this part of the world … ok, try that … I’ve nudged it up a bit.

B: hey Joshua, are you alright?

J: yes

B: I talk quietly, I think the problem is …

JO: I’m the same .. I tend to .. my mother says I mumble …

B: yes …

JO: so, I’m sat in a polytunnel at Maple Farm ..?

B:yes that is right

JO: and I was very happy to see it emerge at the roadside because I was beginning to think I was getting lost again, not much fuel in my tank, and all the rest of it … but I was greeted by Becky and Tigger and made to feel very welcome and now I’ve met Joshua too. Say hello Joshua.

J: Hello

JO: Josh, I should say, yes?

B: yes

J: yes

JO: and we’re sitting in a sunlit polytunnel at Maple Farm Nursery …

B: yes

JO: which is the community hub for

B: fracking … anti-fracking

JO: at this site …

B: Preston New Road site

JO: and do you want to just … for those who are not familiar and you’ll be educating me probably slightly … what would … if you were to give a quick side of the tin type description of the site and the players involved, what’s going on here?

B: The community hub is a place where local people, and national people … well, anybody really can come and find out more about anti-fracking, offer support … it’s a network for individuals, really, who want to see positive change

JO: and I think the sequence was Maple Farm Nursery was here first so to speak …

B: yes, Maple Farm was here first … the land belongs to John T[ ]… and he’s very kindly ..

JO: he was like many people locally but also elsewhere…

B: he’s the one …

JO: fired up by this fracking application

B: .. who is going to be affected because the fracking site is literally like two fields away from his site and he deals with trees

JO: he’s in forestry, sort of … no nursery

B: he deals with .. nursery, yes

JO: ok

B: he is obviously concerned about the damage it can cause to his business … I mean it has already caused damage not only to his business .. but to other people’s businesses along the road and Preston New Road … it’s also upset a lot of the people who live round here because it has affected their house prices … considerably affected their house prices and …

JO: and, institutionally speaking, it’s .. is it Cuadrilla? That’s got the licence to frack here?

B: yes .. I think it’s Cuadrilla .. yes it’s Cuadrilla … there are so many different companies .. I get so confused ….

JO: sure

B: I’m like .. it’s one of them … it’s basically they’re all the same

JO: so that’s the company that is doing the work … or trying to do the work

B: trying to do the work

JO: and the situation is quite peculiar on the face of it because not only do locals, and national campaigns but even the local authority is anti, isn’t it?

B: the local .. Lancashire County Council said no

JO: so the County Council said no … said “get lost!”

B: said no to fracking but the main government overturned that …

JO: and that’s currently being …

B: being appealed in the High Court

JO: so, here … earlier we were saying, it’s quite a variety of organisations and people that are coalescing here …

B: here we have several different groups which kind of fall under the Frack Free Lancashire umbrella … we’ve got the Nanners … the Lancashire Nanners …we’ve got Yorkshire Nanners ….

JO: I’ve got to ask you a bit more about that because I haven’t heard of them … that’s how you identified yourself, I think, initially

B: yes … it is .. I am a Nanner …

JO: what’s a Lancashire Nanner then? Am I pronouncing it correctly? Nanner?

B: It’s just a Nanner. We got the idea initially from the Australian Knitting Nanners who are against fracking in Australia …

JO: cool

J: where have my glasses gone?

B: not sure sweetie

JO: that’s very interesting

B: and it was a group of women and there was a few gentlemen … a few men who wanted to highlight the issue of fracking in our area and we took a piece of land and camped there

JO: this is one of the sites that is due to be …

B: yes one of the Wensley .. yes it was Wensley’s land … and we came together and put a plan in action and followed through and took it for three weeks to highlight …

JO: and by that we mean you effectively camped there for three weeks … what was the consequence for Cuadrilla?

B: at the time, it really wasn’t much of a consequence to them .. it was more of highlighting the issue and saying ….

JO: so that wasn’t what you were trying to do necessarily at the time …

B: no, we were trying to highlight to the locals who live here and travel down this road that this is actually where the site is and it did. It highlighted … made …

JO: it worked …

B: made the locals aware … the local paper obviously picked it up … also, a lot of news companies picked it up as well so it kind of put us on the map .. . and that’s how we got most of our … can’t think of the word … what you call it

JO: no …

B: … petition signed … that’s it ..

JO: so when .. was this prior to the Preston New Road Action Group being in existence or was that there ? …

B: I think it .. kind of .. it was already there … there’s been a lot of groups that are already …

JO: ok, so you did that and effectively it worked, it contributed to what’s going on …

B: it worked .. yes it did … it made an impact … which was what we needed … and from there, it’s just got larger, really … it’s not just the Nanners …

JO: let’s reel off some of the names of some of the groups that are coming and going

B: well, we’ve got Greenpeace, we’ve got the Green Party, we’ve got Frack Free Lancashire, we’ve got the Labour Party come up

JO: Reclaim the Power …

B: Reclaim the Power is one of them … which are a grassroots movement … we’ve also got …

JO: have you had any council people here?

B: yes we have councillors … we have a lot of council …

JO: because presumably if the council is opposed …

B: yes, we’ve had … we’ve got local councils … we’ve got local parish councillors come … we have community hub people .. it’s just … do you know what … the list is endless … the support that we’ve got from lots of people

JO: I think I .. you and I both knew the Green Party are effectively sending quite a high profile delegation tomorrow

B: yes ..they have …. Caroline Lucas …

JO: but you were saying that the pattern at the site … although it’s changing a little … it’s actually quite structured .. you were saying there’s a … Monday is a Green Day….

B: On a Monday, we have Green Monday … Green Monday which are, in effect, anything relating to Green … Greenpeace … Green Party … and then on Wednesday, we have the women’s call .. and women …

JO: that was very interesting .. what you told me about that …

B: it’s empowering for women to be able to come together .. and to walk up … we walk up from the community hub up to the gates of the fracking site and we stand outside there or 15 minutes silently outside the gate … we use yellow ribbon to .. we pin ourselves in with yellow ribbon and so far, touch wood, the police have been quite accommodating for that … and they stand behind the yellow ribbon with us, so in fact get penned in with us, which is nice … We stay silent for 15 minutes and that is to show that we can do … that we are peaceful .. that we are not happy … and it’s empowering for other women who might feel that they can’t come on other days because they’re afraid of the violence that might occur with the police … certainly not from any of the protectors … everybody that I’ve come across is very peaceful and it gives them a platform and an opportunity to meet other women and …

JO: does that have a certain kind of feeling about it, that group ?

B: it does … it has a certain kind of … it’s empowering to be surrounded by so many women that can .. that want to stand up and say no … I mean a lot of these women might …you know … they work … they’re mothers … they’re daughters … they’re sisters … you know, they come from all different walks of life … but we all come together united because of the fracking that’s going to take place in Blackpool.

JO: yes

B: And they don’t want it.

JO: I mean I .. I ought to, I suppose, ask you … I’ll probably put some narrative together after I’ve done some homework, as well but …. I won’t lead … I’ll let you tell me what bothers you about fracking … how did you come to be concerned about fracking? That’s quite an old story …

B: Yes … I ..

JO: and what is it?

B: well, basically …

JO: it’s like hydraulic fracturing …

B: yes … it’s hydraulic fracturing … drill into the ground … you drill down and then you drill out and they pump down fluid … well they pierce holes into …

JO: hence the hydraulics

B: yes … and then they pump in fluid … water … which is mixed, I think, with something … is it clay? … and something else – I was watching a video the other day actually … and …

JO: homework to follow

B: yes … homework … it’s a really good video actually … and they draw it back up and bring it to the surface and with that is the shale gas … but they burn off … they lose some of it and they burn off some of the methane which is obviously bad and when they are bringing that water … the fluid that comes back up … has chemicals in it … like … it’s slightly radioactive … now… they have to send that away to be treated … but you can’t really get rid of the … it’s basically used water then .. you can’t .. they have to store it … so, sometimes …

JO: what are they doing all this for nominally?

B: what are they … what are they doingthis for? They’re doing it to produce gas for electricity .. well …

JO: natural … natural gas …

B: yes and it’s not even … it’s 10 years … that’s the most they get out of a site … I mean … and that’s in America where they’ve got great big …

JO: so that’s … in their view .. that’s the sort of best-case scenario …

B: yes .. scenario … but here we’re … it’s a different kind of shale gas that they’re going to be using …

JO: so, being devil’s advocate, what’s wrong with that then? People like electricity and gas, don’t they? I’m being devil’s advocate, of course…

B: They do. I know. They do, but there’s alternatives and we shouldn’t be drilling into the ground any more .. I mean .. we’re already depleting … the reason they’re going this way is because we’re depleting the oil or [ ] … you know we’ve already … coal .. we shouldn’t be using fossil fuels .. right now we should be moving into renewables …

JO: that’s how I feel …

B: we have the opportunity to do that …we should be setting the example for future generations

to continue on … if we’ve got the technology to do it, then why are we not using it?

JO: quite

B: My question to anybody is always, if you have the opportunity to make change for the better, why are we not?

JO: yes … I mean I’ve heard …

B: [ ] we’ve got to worry about climate change … if we don’t change our ways … I mean ..well it was 2020, wasn’t it … we had but now science has relooked at it and it’s pretty much … we’re hitting the deadline now … and if we haven’t stopped or changed our ways, we’ve basically ruined the planet for future generations. Now, I’ve got children, and I want to have grandchildren, when they grow up, but I’m now at that point where I’m thinking “is that the right move?” … you know …. should I be telling my children when they get older “don’t have children” because really what world are you bringing them into …

JO: yes

B: they are not going to have any resources left .. The planet is going to fight back and …

JO: that’s how I … that’s how I see things. The planet .. I mean .. you can’t really say “fine” for a planet but the planet will do just fine, won’t it?

B: [ ] she will … it’s us …[ ] … we …

JO: what we are doing is changing an Earth System that works for us as humans into one that doesn’t, yes?

B: … we will … exactly … we will be the ones to destroy … the planet will be here long after ticking over … I mean .. it got rid of the dinosaurs … you know … it’s got rid of a lot of things ..you know … if she’s had enough, she will decide “enough is enough, right … that’s it.. you’re gone now!”

JO: yes … I am very much of the same view … when I first saw a fracking piece or listened … I think I went to an event where Frack Free Somerset spoke …

B: yes

JO: … against … it might have been Cuadrilla … if not Cuadrilla, a similar sort of firm …

B: yes

JO: there was a public debate … and they really leant heavily … it was a geologist … an ex- geologist speaking for Frack Free Somerset but he really leant heavily on the arguments around what happens locally including things like earthquakes … subsidence … poisoning

B: yes, well the impact that it has … exactly the impact it has ..

JO: so on and so forth …. but he neglected the argument you’ve just made which I think is the trump card, really

B: yes

JO: we can’t use fossil fuel any more

B: yes, we can’t

JO: why are you trying to find more?

B: that’s it

JO: we can’t use what we’ve already got

B: exactly .. you know … we are struggling to use what we’ve got and there is … I mean we’ve got … it’s because there are no tax breaks for renewables but they give them to oil companies and they’re making enough money that they can afford to pay taxes but you’re not going to give it to something that is sustainable and that tells me … me personally … that it’s not about … making …

JO: it’s not a technical question, is it?

B: it’s not about making the planet a better place … it’s about how much you can earn off the back of what you are doing ..

JO: yes

B: and a lot of these people have already got enough money that they could feed the world

three times over

JO: quite

B: so why are you trying to get more money? You can’t take it with you. I can understand maybe if you are going to leave it for future generations but you are not leaving them a planet to live in

JO: you’re not leaving future generations

B: exactly .. they’re not leaving future generations … no …

JO: so … what else do we need to talk about … we’ve covered .. we’ve covered where we are ..

B: yes

JO: we could talk a little bit about your little journey if you’d like to …

B: yes, that’s fine … yes

JO: ’cause I think it is extremely interesting and inspiring and useful as well for people to see that … how someone comes to be in the position you are in … we know what fracking is …

B: yes

JO: anything else before we make it .. I mean I’ve got … I’ve got a couple of questions I’d like to put to you about sort of wider political action

B: yes

JO: but do you want to do a little bit of a bio? Do you mind ?

B: no I don’t mind at all.

JO: Give us a quick rundown on how you came to be here ’cause you said .. you described it as a journey

B: ok .. well …yes … yes .. it is a journey … I have been on a journey .. I’m still on my journey … I’m hoping to continue my journey for a very long time … I kind of got involved because my Auntie and my Mum were involved in Occupy and that kind of opened up .. I think .. their eyes … to [ ]

JO: which community are you from? Is that local?

B: No, they went down to Occupy London … and …

JO: .. but I mean where are you from?

B: Blackpool.

JO: so you are a Blackpool family …

B: yes .. well, yes … pretty much …

JO: kind of …

B: kind of … a bit all over the place but I’ve pretty much been brought up in Blackpool, so …

JO: ok … so … you were .. you were involved in Occupy …

B: I wasn’t …

JO: they got involved … in London

B: which kind of opened up my eyes to things and they came back and told me about what it was about and … from there .. they got involved in fracking … the anti fracking movement and they got involved down in Balcombe and a few other things … and … I think the first thing I went on was Camp Frack II .. which was only … it was just in Southport .. .and I had split up with my kids’ Dad … I’ve got three of them … and they were only young … I think my youngest was two at the time and my eldest would have been about 7. That was .. it was a good experience and I went and I met lots of people who were part of the anti-fracking community … which was a good starter weekend for anybody. It was good information gathering and I got to meet a lot of people who I had heard about through my Mum and my Auntie … and then in the summertime, I went down to Balcombe and that was an experience … like I said before … I had suffered from like anxiety attacks and I was very much nervous about leaving …. travelling .. it was like a big no-no for me … and then getting my three children on a train and … all the way down to Balcombe … that was like a train to Preston, Preston to London, then London to Balcombe and …

JO: pretty intimidating …

B: it was intimidating … it was intimidating … and I was very worried the whole entire time, thinking that I might have an anxiety attack … I couldn’t do that … there was nobody else around

JO: and you weren’t helped an awful lot, I think you said ..

B: no I wasn’t helped … I wasn’t … there was no help from anybody on that trip until I got to

Balcombe … and then somebody came and picked my children up and they picked all my

luggage that I had taken … and I ended up walking from the station down to Balcombe and that was an experience that changed me .. I mean I went from walking down by myself quiet quietly and meeting loads of people on the roadside and .. it was .. it was a life changing experience .. People said “hello” to me … people asked me if I needed help …

JO: just the way people were

B: people were welcoming and really nice .. and it was interesting when you came down … the kind of .. the hill …

J: Mum!

B: the sight of the …

J: can we go down to [ ] for dinner?

B: maybe

J: because [ ] is there .. and look [ ] is even here … [ ]

B: I know … I know … I saw … just wait a minute … and then down the sides of the roads were the camp … people camping and then there were the police and that was … it was kind of .. it was overwhelming but in a positive kind of wake-you-up, give-you-a-shake kind of way … and then I ..

J: Mum!

B: that same weekend I met Reclaim the Power and that was also quite eye-opening. That was the first time I met them.

JO: Yes. I don’t know them very well … someone mentioned them before very positively, but …

B: and .. just a group … groups of people coming together to highlight the fossil fuel industry and stuff and other issues ….

JO: So this kind of helped you reorient yourself … find yourself a bit in a way?

B: yes it did. I started to find myself and since then I’ve been involved with some of the Nanners … I’ve been on marches … I’ve been … have helped hold events. I’m now currently here at Preston New Road …. and I’ve kind of altered my life again … which is … you know, I’ve now handed my notice in at work … I’m homeschooling my two youngest children and I want to show … you know … the community and other people that it’s not scary …

JO: yes

B: you can do it and it doesn’t matter if .. you know … how old you are … you know … it doesn’t matter if you’ve got children or not got children … you can step outside of that box any time you want … and although you may be frightened, there are a lot of people who have already stepped out …

JO: yes

B: or are on that same journey as you ..

JO: you’re not alone … doing it for the first time

B: you’re not alone and people are so willing to help you. I have never met such an amazing group of people .. in this movement …. you know … protectors, activists, whatever you want to label them … they are amazing … and ..

JO: and you said that they’d effectively become ..

B: my family … they have … everybody I’ve met has become my family and I wouldn’t view it any other way

JO: that’s very nice … So, last of all is my thing … which is … I have a sort of an argument already but I’m holding it quite lightly because I am going to have conversations with all the people I’ve come across and I’d like to invite you … you know … if you want to take my email address

B: yes

JO: just be in touch ’cause I’d like to bounce ideas off you and get your ideas and input … so .. what I’m saying really is … we’re in … which I think you would agree with … from the climate point of view … we’re in an emergency … well, it’s not just that … there’s the nukes issue as well ..

B: yes .. so many issues

JO: which North Korea has kindly reminded people of ….

B: yes

JO: more recently …

B: exactly …

JO: I’ve characterised the situation we’re in as an emergency situation …. you’ve .. you said the clock may even have run out …

B : yes

JO: but if it hasn’t, we’ve certainly got … what … 5 years or something to turn the ship around … so to speak

B: well … a little bit less than that I think …

JO: you think it’s more urgent than that …

B: I think it is … it is more urgent than that

JO: so, it’s an emergency situation

B: we need to … people need … we need to wake up and we need to effect change … now I am not saying that it is not happening already because it is starting to happen but it needs to be a little bit more … if the government, the media and everything started portraying and telling people what is actually happening instead of portraying …you know .. rose tinted glasses, really … it’s like [ ] .. you know or only doing it for their own gain, then people would actually see the damage which is being incurred at the moment …

JO: So, the moment, I think, like me, you feel that there’s a sort of section of people who are aware of what’s going on and are trying to do something …

B: yes, and you’ve got others …

JO: which … you’re an example of protection of … what I call protection of the Earth System … you are physically and morally protecting the Earth System from further damage …

B: yes…. you’ve got others who … yes … I think you’ve got a lot … a group of people who know what’s going on and are quite happy just to still sit back …

JO: so they are potentially willing to act …

B: they’re on the fence sitters .. fence sitters … is I think probably … and it’s not being negative … sometimes people just … they know what’s going on but they can’t effect or they don’t know how to effect the change … so that’s not …

JO: so that’s like two groups …

B: yes … and then I think .. you know …

JO: you’ve got those that are up to no good and know it …

B: yes, exactly … and then I think you’ve got people who just don’t know … they are just not aware …

JO: so you think potentially there are still … there’s still awareness building to do

B: yes there are … there is still awareness building … I think there are a lot of people still out there – not maybe a lot – but still people out there that aren’t aware.

JO: yes


contents | next