Letter to MPs from Councillors & ConstituentsDuring the summer we are being asked to campaign on keeping our local democracy intact, particularly with regard to planning applications for fracking and the consultation runs until October 25.
Here are two links below, firstly the Quaker response and secondly what the Government has said. Please take time to engage with your local MP and councillors about this matter. Friends of the Earth and 350.org have also got campaign materials in circulation and the Quaker perspective is very clear too.
Quaker briefing – PRINT-fracking-consultation-briefing-aug-2018
Government paper on the issue
We met in Preston four of us from the campaign in Lancashire and #NoFaithinFracking with Ruth Platt the NW co-ordinator for Christian Aid. Ruth had set up the connection with the African Christian group from Kwa-Zulu Natal who were involved with the land. They are connected with the Church Land Programme and this is their FB page https://m.facebook.com/ChurchLandProgramme/
We were given in advance a passage from Romans Chapter 8 verses 18-25 to study and discuss after introducing ourselves and our situations here and in Africa. They told us that people were being relocated, moved off the land and they feel that their rights are being violated.
As we have seen with globalisation, the worlds resources are being sold off by Govts to various multi-national extractive industries. The area being targeted in Kwa-Zulu Natal is Newcastle, a coal mining area, very similar to what we have in the English regions with deeper shale layers.
We plan to meet up again in the autumn and feel enriched by our sharing.
It has been an amazing experience of everyone contributing their skills in whatever way suited them and inviting many different groups to come and participate. We put together a programme for the week on the newly formed website www. nofaithinfracking.org and I camped for the week at Maple Farm, a mile away from the site entrance. The weather was challenging at times with quite a chilly wind and rain from time to time. We managed to maintain a presence at the gates for most of Cuadrilla’s working week. Throughout it all there was a spirit of solidarity in spite of the police performing their tasks of moving people out of the way for any vehicle movements…
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No Faith In Fracking week is running between 23-28 April at the gates of Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston new Road, Lancashire and has been organised by a grassroots group of individuals, from a range of faith traditions, united in their opposition to fracking and motivated by faith to cherish the Earth for future generations and to speak out against climate injustice that causes huge inequalities across the world. Hundreds of people of all faiths and none are joining them during the week from across the North-West and beyond.
Among the organisers are a number of Quakers from the North-West who wanted to add their solidarity to the ‘United Resistance’ three months of actions running at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road between April and June 2018. Quakers nationally are calling for a ban on new and intensive forms of fossil fuel extraction, including fracking for shale gas and oil, and underground coal gasification. In February 2017 Quakers in Britain issued a statement “The UK needs to be investing in efficient and renewable energy, and reducing demand, not in additional fossil fuels. Fracked gas is not the low-carbon solution some suggest that it is and is incompatible with tackling the climate crisis. It is destructive of the environment, land and communities. We have faith that we can tackle climate change and build a more sustainable future, but we know this is only possible if fossil fuels remain underground.”[1}
Members of the local Catholic community are also present during the week, sharing prayers and readings inspired by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si Encyclical. Dorothy Kelk, a Catholic from Preston said: “In Laudato Si, Pope Francis states clearly his concerns for our planet: ‘I urgently appeal…..for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet’. He says that each of us has a duty to raise awareness about the state of our planet’s health: ‘….Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’”.  On ‘Earth Day’ Sunday 22 April 2018 it was announced that 35 Catholic institutions have pledged to remove fossil fuels from their investment holdings.
Many other faith groups and traditions are contributing to the ‘No Faith in Fracking’ Week including:
Community activist and Druid Gillian Kavanagh is organising a Druid Earth Blessing ceremony on the Thursday of No Faith in Fracking week, Gillian commented:
“As a practising Druid my temple is the natural world, I see the Earth as Sacred, divinity in all living things including water. It is my moral and spiritual duty to do all I can to protect our Sacred Earth, for after all we are the guardians of the earth for the children of tomorrow whatever your belief system. Coming together in community and doing what we can to be in alignment with the earth is what indigenous peoples around the world call ‘being in right relationship’. Fracking is definitely out of relationship with the earth and puts profits before people.”
Phil Kingston from Christian Climate Action commented: “We are a community of Christians supporting each other in following Jesus Christ in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, in acts of non-violent direct action. The primary cause of climate breakdown is greenhouse gas emissions and we are therefore deeply concerned about the development of fracking, which will only add to those. We come here to acknowledge our own part in the destruction of the Earth and to pray for the grace to be witnesses to a different way of living.”
Joseph Mishan from Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement commented:
“We are a network of Buddhist meditators who are deeply concerned about the climate crisis. We will be coming to the Fracking front lines at Preston New Road to support the Protectors and to lead actions. Fracking is part of the fossil fuel industry which is endangering life on this unique and precious planet, and damaging the quality of life for local communities. Our central values of compassion and non-harming means that DANCE feel compelled to act when we see injury or harm. We hope to provide a sustaining and determined presence during this action.”
Full list of ‘No Faith in Fracking’ week participants and events: https://nofaithinfracking.org/events/
Press contact: 0798 3355955
1. Quakers in Britain call for ban on fracking: https://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/news/fracking-must-be-banned
2. Laudato Si: Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and human ecology: Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and human ecology https://laudatosi.com/watch
3. Catholic institutions divest from fossil fuels: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/8942/more-catholic-institutions-divest-from-fossil-fuels#
The controversial process of fracking* for shale gas could begin in the UK as early as this spring. In response, three months of community and civil society action, under the banner ‘United Resistance’, are being planned from April – June 2018. As part of this, Quakers from the North West are working alongside people of all faiths and spiritualities to co-create a ‘No Faith in Fracking’ week at the Cuadrilla fracking site at Preston New Road (PR4 3PF) near Blackpool from 23-28 April 2018.
The No Faith in Fracking Week will offer a space for people moved by faith and spirit to express in their various and distinctive ways their shared care for the Earth, their resistance to fracking and their concerns about climate change and climate justice.
Wendy Pattinson a Quaker from Lancaster and member of the No Faith in Fracking group said: “Fracking crosses a climate red line and we cannot allow a new source of fossil fuel to take hold in the UK. The oil coal and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.”
Dot Kelk, a Catholic from Preston, said: “Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si puts it very clearly: ‘I urgently appeal..for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all’.
Clíodhna Mulhern, a Quaker from Lancaster, said “ Hydraulic fracturing poses significant, proven risk to the health of local people, it undermines local communities, and contaminates air, water and soil – the very building blocks of life. As people of faith and spirit it is our privilege and our duty to protect life on earth and if that means standing at Cuadrilla’s gates then that is where we shall be. “
Chayley Collis, a Quaker from Huddersfield, said: “Fracking is clearly incompatible with the global Paris climate commitment. The UK Government itself has also recently acknowledged that to have a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees we need to leave up to 75% of existing reserves of fossil fuels in the ground” 
In February 2017 Quakers in Britain issued a statement opposing fracking in the UK Fracking
Hilary Whitehead, a Quaker and one of the organisers of the No Faith in Fracking week, said: “Care for the vulnerable in society, such as those people impacted by climate change, is a theme that unites all faith traditions, as is care for the Earth, our shared home. The No Faith In Fracking Week will bring together a range of faiths and spiritual traditions in upholding the sacredness of Earth. These will include Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Green Spirit, Wiccan, Quaker and Druid and will involve prayers, rituals, ceremonies, meditations, silent vigils and liturgies at the roadside entrance to Cuadrilla’s fracking site.”
Events planned for the week include:
- Tibetan Buddhist chanting and guided meditation,
- Christian Celtic Care of Creation
- Green Spirit readings from Thomas Berry and Matthew Fox
- Earth care rituals
- Catholic liturgy
- Talks and workshops on the effects of climate change
- Walking meditation led by the Community of Interbeing.
- Meditations led by Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE)
- ‘Earth Agape’ Liturgy led by Christian Climate Action and Faith & Resistance Network
- Quaker-led silent vigils
- Wiccan Wellbeing Celebration Day
- Earth and spirit poetry and readings
- Songs of Hope
A link to the event diary is here: https://nofaithinfracking.org/events/
The co-ordinators of the week are inviting people of all faiths and spiritualities and none to join the peaceful gatherings at any time during the week. More information:
Notes for the Editor
Press contact: 0798 3355955
A film, with interviews from members and supporters of the No Faith in Fracking group, from a range of faith traditions, is available to view here: https://vimeo.com/255967037
1. ‘The Sky’s Limit’, Oil Change International, 2016 and ‘Tackling climate change: Keeping coal , oil and gas in the ground’ Friends of the Earth briefing, July 2017
2. Fossil Fuels: Written question: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-12-09/56871
3. Faith Against Fracking https://vimeo.com/140180741
Film about US faith groups witness against the fracking industry
* Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock.
It’s Raining! March 18,2018
At last the rains have begun….maybe. Although this is the time of year when they should come: Easter is the time for planting the primary maize crop for the year. But no-one is sure any more. I remember when I first came out here as a VSO in 1976 the farmers were saying, even then, that the climate was changing. They could no longer be confident the rains would come when they should. El Nino droughts were happening more frequently…every 3 to 4 years instead of 7 years, giving farmers no time to recover from one drought to the next.
The majority of the farmers in Damulog, Bukidnon on the island of Mindanao are very poor living on less than £2/day. Bukidnon is the 4th poorest Province in the Philippines. They borrow from the middle traders to buy the seed and other inputs they need to plant. The loan is usually two to three times the actual cost of the seeds etc but they have no choice and they are obligated to sell their harvest back to the trader they borrowed from… at a lower than market price. Their collateral is their land. If the rains fail…or come at the wrong time and the crop fails…and they can’t pay back the lender they will forfeit the land becoming day labourers and sliding deeper into poverty.
To make matters worse, despite the Philippines being the most typhoon prone country in the world, the island of Mindanao has always been typhoon free. That is why Del Monte made Bukidnon the site of its pineapple plantation when they moved their production from Hawaii in the 1930s later adding plantations of bananas and papaya…..that is until the last few years when super typhoon Haiyan and Bopha tracked further south than usual, devastating the eastern and northern seaboards of Mindanao causing massive destruction. In the past few months tropical storm Temba battered Marawi which is still recovering from a 5-month siege by ISIS inspired extremists. Evacuation centres were flooded and landslides washed houses and people away with the loss of over 120 lives. Mindanao can no longer claim to be typhoon free. Everything changes.
Climate change is affecting the poorest the most. Land is being concentrated in fewer and fewer families as the changing weather creates increased risk of crop failure and uncertainty. With little future on the land the young are moving to the coastal cities where they join the vast numbers squatting along the rivers and coastal margins and as storms and rising seas create increased flooding their lives become increasingly precarious.
In a very small way MuCAARD* teams are trying to help.
It has been a busy couple of months visiting MuCAARD member teams. Some of you may have seen the photos on the MuCAARD-UK Facebook page of the work of COSEED reforesting the mangroves, protecting the coastline from tsunamis and helping farmers redeem their land through a Land Redemption programme we support. We met 4 of the beneficiaries of this programme and they all told us how this programme has given them hope that they will, once again, benefit from the harvest of their land.
Just one story:
Reminda Tingson: widow, 4 children
In 2007 her child working in Manila and was emergency admitted to hospital with meningitis.
Cost of hospitalization: Php 100,000 (£1400 or more than her annual income)
She borrowed or ‘Prenda’ Php45,000 using 2has. of coconuts as collateral with no time limit to repay.
Prenda means: 100% of the income from the coconuts goes to the lender
Loan has to be paid in full in a single payment
In 2014 Reminda approached CoSEED for help to buy back her land but they had no funds at that time. But it made them realise the extent of this problem. They sent a proposal to MuCAARD-UK and we were able to give a small grant.
In 2016 CoSEED gave her the Php45,000 to repay the loan and a formal agreement signed agreeing that:
25% of the harvest retained by Reminda
25% towards repayment of the loan
10% to hire individual to monitor the coconuts
15% Federation of CoSEED Community Organisation to build up capital for projects
25% CoSEED staff /office costs and expand programmes
Net income from first harvest: Php 5833.30 of which Php2916.66 is down payment on loan. Coconuts are harvested 3x pa. This means that in less than 6 years the loan will have repaid. Reminda has been unable to pay it off over the past 12 years because the lenders will only accept it as a lump sum.
Over the past 12 years she has earnt money from taking in sewing selling slipper and bags.
Now Reminda is helping one of her children to buy a small house and has small capital to start up a dried fish business.
MuCAARD-UK has supported this project for the past 3 years.
BUT THEN….Romy got a small wound on his lower leg and ignored it until a temperature of 39.7c meant emergency admission to a hospital with cellulitis, for 4 days of intravenous antibiotics. Two weeks later he’s much better, still taking medicines, but slowly building up his energy and getting mobile again. Maybe now he’ll be more careful of his diet as being borderline diabetic means he can’t eat as many bananas as he likes!
I have been helping out the MuCAARD staff responding to the ongoing crisis in Marawi. Romy, when he hasn’t been in hospital, has been spreading the word about the BISAP PuLPuG/GRACE health scheme. One village organised a meeting at which over 850 people came. The programme has now been officially adopted by the local officials and will begin operating in the next few months.
In the meantime my okra plants are flowering, tomatoes are growing and beans have been planted. May the rains continue!
*MuCAARD is a Christian/Muslim charity doing a tree planting programme