Andy’s diary of the day – Getting Fracktious – London 1st December 2012

07.30 train from Bridgend to Paddington10.00 Arrive in London and grab a coffee before walk to USA Embassy in Grosvenor Square.10.45 Meet up with Campaign Against Climate Change crew and volunteers to help unload and sort placards, banners and ‘pipeline’ props. Good to meet up with lots of what seem like old friends now, from around the country who have been at other meetings, protests, Green Party Conferences and a few who I have only ever spoken to on the phone or via Internet/email, including Gayzer ‘Frackman’ Taryanyi, who arrived on his bike from Hemel Hempstead – the last leg of his promotional ride from Lytham St. Annes.

(This was outside the US Embassy, with the Canadian Embassy on the far side of the Square, in the background)

12.30 Leave Grosvenor Square with Gayzer (Frack Free Fylde) and Eve McNamara (REAF – Ribble Estuary Against Fracking), to meet up with the rest of the delegation going into Downing Street. This meant we missed the pipe laying caper across the Square – so here it is in 17 secs of video – courtesy of Frack Off (London):

13.00 Meet in the Red Lion in Parliament Street with Vanessa Vine (Frack Free Sussex and Biff – Britain & Ireland Frack Free), Maria Montinaro (Falkirk Community Councils) and Adam McGibbon (Belfast not for $hale). Also meet up with film crew from the Ecology Film Unit, who are putting together a UK version of their influential film ‘Fracking Hell: The Untold Story’ (available on youtube), and a variety of other freelance journalists and photographers.
We undertook a kinda ceremonial signing of the letter (see attachment) to be presented in Downing Street for the cameras, did a variety of interviews and had lots of photos taken.

From left to right, outside Houses of Parliament:
Adam (N.Ire), Maria (Scot), Eve/Gayzer (Lancs), me (Wales), Vanessa (SE Eng)
The Guardian was running the story already: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/01/anti-fracking-activists-parliament-protests

14.00 Go through the rigmarole of security into Downing Street. Minor panic as half the delegation had no photo I.D. (no names mentioned)
Lots of posing for photos outside the door – only accredited photographers allowed, so will have to wait to get our hands on some of these.
(see here for some: http://peterwebb.photoshelter.com/gallery/Letter-against-fracking-LONDON-01-Dec-2012/G0000n9ROJjQ92Xs/C0000xDgb_UAQCkg )
But if you imagine the above delegates in front of this door with a big Xmas tree, with huge baubles, to the left, you will pretty much have it!

Sad to say, Dave wasn’t in and, disappointingly, had left no instructions to invite us in and offer us tea and cake; which would have been nice considering we had come from far and wide to see him – but times are hard for everyone I guess!
So we left our letter and a few other bits of bedtime reading for him (including some choice depositions to the Llandow public inquiry), with the trusty looking gentleman who opened the door to us.

15.00 On coming out of Downing Street, Eve and I went off to track down and join the marchers on route from the US Embassy to Parliament. We found them approaching Trafalgar Square – and what a fine sight they were:

(Entering Trafalgar Square)

(Eve rejoining her fellow fractivists from REAF)
Numbers had swollen considerably from when we had left them at Grosvenor Square. Estimates put the numbers at between 300 and 400 in total.
Amongst groups that had swollen the numbers were lots of local Green Party groups, from across the SE in particular, and also more familiar faces from Frack Off and Friends of the Earth.
Tisha, from Frack Off, gave me an entertaining account of what they had been up to during the morning. They had visited Lord Browne‘s Chelsea pad, to give him a wake up call. He is Chair of Cuadrilla Resources, the bungling Lancashire frackers.

(Lord Browne getting a visit from Frack Off (London))
It may not surprise many to learn that Lord Browne has considerable Government connections to go alongside his industry interests!

15.30 The march ends outside the Houses of Parliament and the gathering crowds erect an impressive mock rig to rousing cheers, caught by the BBC cameras:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20568469 (Vanessa did an excellent interview with Ben Ando for a live BBC news feed at one point – you may have seen it)

(Semi-erect)

(Fully erect – Frack Off crew in orange – Tisha in middle)

Phil (CACC), Eve (REAF), MP John McDonnell (Lab Hayes and Harlington) , and Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader) made rousing speeches to end the formalities of the day. Natalie’s speech at the end of the day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LXv0qU45Xdg#!

16.30 Help with the clear up before heading off for a warming meal and a couple of drinks.

19.15 Train back to Bridgend, with usual delays and detours to try and piss you off – but it has been a very satisfying day, as I reflected on how far this campaign has come in the two years since I stood on that hill top near Llangeinor and realised what was at stake. https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/fracking-close-to-llangeinor-lewistown-ogmore-vale-blackmill-bettws/

22.20 Home in time for MotD and a large whisky!

All this was happening in London, but during the day many other events were happening all over the country, including:

SWANSEA / KEYNSHAM / BRIGHTON / HUDDERSFIELD / LYTHAM ST.ANNES

For an excellent round up of all the day’s news and highlights from around the country, check this out:

http://frack-off.org.uk/action/national-round-up/

Letter to David Cameron Re Fracking Ban 1.12.12.pdf

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