Opposition to fracking is often presented as Climate Justice and many who oppose fracking will claim to have a strong social conscience and to be concerned for climate justice and social justice.
I am not sure that Arthur Parson, now a jobless person from Longridge, Lancashire would agree with them, so now READ Arthur’s story: the human cost of #fracking opposition in the UK
I’m Arthur Parson, a Lancashire resident that was lucky enough to get a well paying job with one of the main drilling contractors for Cuadrilla a few years ago, after several years of no work.
But here I am without a job again because, in the last two weeks, I’ve been made redundant.
My employer had been lined up to drill up to 8 new exploration wells on the Fylde. But then councillors refused planning permission for Cuadrilla’s proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, and everything changed.
The drilling firm that I was working for is an SME, and just couldn’t afford to carry my wages when the Cuadrilla work didn’t come off.
Sadly, I’m not the only one affected.
Another local lad, Neil Harrison, has also lost his job, along with 36 others.
Many of us are family men, and so being made redundant doesn’t just impact us, but our wives and children too.
The people that are against shale gas here don’t seem to have any real understanding of the human costs of their opposition. They are so fixated on winning, that they either forget or just overlook the effects they are having on ordinary, hardworking people like me. For them, the end justifies the means, come what may.
I don’t think that’s fair.
I’m especially bothered by the fact that so many of the people attempting to block shale gas going ahead in Lancashire aren’t even from here. They’re from much wealthier parts of the country, where the need for good jobs isn’t as pressing. During the week of planning meetings at County Hall at the end of June, activists arrived from all over the country in specially laid-on buses just to create the impression of mass opposition.
Why should my local elected representatives listen to people with no connection to this area? Why should those people get away with blocking something that could create lots of new jobs whilst supporting many others that already exist? And why should people like me bear the brunt of their opposition?
Locals living near the proposed sites have been frightened into thinking that it isn’t safe for them or the environment. But I’ve worked on drilling sites for a number of years now, and I have seen them operated safely with my own eyes.
I know it is done properly in this country, not because someone has told me it is, but because I’ve been directly involved myself and experienced it first-hand.
If there really were noxious fumes coming off these sites, it would be workers like me and my colleagues that would be most exposed to them, but none of us has been affected. None of us has developed any sort of life changing or life threatening illness, and none of the older generation of oil and gas workers that I’ve met have either – even though they’ve been doing it a lot longer.
It’s easy for people to suggest that all the companies involved in shale gas are only in it for the profits and will cut corners on safety, but there is no evidence of that at all. I’ve received a huge amount of expensive safety training in my time with my employer, and have had to work to very exacting standards imposed by the operators we’ve been working for.
Drilling for shale gas is no less safe and no more disruptive than other civil engineering activities, if it’s done properly.
That’s why I’m writing to my MP, Ben Wallace, to tell him my story and to ask him to take my plight to the Prime Minister. This government has said it is supportive of safe and responsible shale gas exploration because it could boost the economy and create jobs – I want to know what it plans to do in order to safeguard existing jobs and prevent politically and ideologically motivated anti-fracking opponents from putting more people like me out of work.
I had hoped that, when they met on Thursday last week to discuss the report produced by its own environmental panel, Preston City Council members would have voted to accept the recommendations of the report and give their backing to fracking as a job creating new industry. I’m disappointed that they didn’t.
This is one of the reasons why we’re backing fracking. We need gas, and lots of it. We should be able to extract our own and create jobs rather than rely on gas from other countries that doesn’t create many jobs. And we should be able to ensure that people like Arthur have the chance of good jobs with prospects, not dead-end, low paid, zero-hours jobs.