Tina Rothery is a high profile community campaigner in Lancashire who will be attending Blackpool County Court on Friday 24 June, having been ordered to pay costs of over £55,000 to the energy company Cuadrilla. The order relates to a three-week community protection camp she was involved in in Blackpool in 2014. The camp was located on a site where Cuadrilla hoped to drill exploratory wells for unconventional shale gas using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking), had it got permission from Lancashire County Council. Lancashire County Council however refused permission for exploratory drilling in 2015, a decision which Cuadrilla recently appealed.
The court wants Tina to explain why she has not paid the costs yet. Tina has made clear in public statements and on her blog that she will not pay these costs to Cuadrilla on principle.
Tina has campaigned against fracking on the grounds that it is inherently harmful, in particular that it poses a risk to human health via potential water and air pollution, and as a contributor to climate change. However, Tina’s primary motivation has been to protect and secure a healthy environment for her grandchildren, and indeed all children. She stood against George Osborne in the 2015 general election as the Green Party candidate, and used the platform to raise awareness of climate change among other social justice issues.
Medact’s own position is that any exploration for and extraction of new fossil fuel resources, including natural gas, threatens human health via the effect of contributing to climate change. Climate change poses a risk to health via multiple pathways including the effects of extreme weather events, food and water insecurity, altered disease patterns, ocean acidification, and as a threat multiplier that increases the risk of conflict and population displacement.
Medact does not believe this court action against Tina is in the public interest given the scale of the challenge posed by climate change, and the apparent lack of consistency between government pledges to reduce carbon emissions, and the reality of UK energy policies – including fracking – being pursued. In this context is is unsurprising that people are moved to conduct direct action to try to catalyse meaningful political action.
Medact wrote to Lancashire Council in 2014 and 2015 to advise of the health risks of Cuadrilla’s fracking application. It is difficult to view Cuadrilla’s £55,000 legal case against a community campaigner and grandmother as anything other than an attempt to intimidate Tina herself and others who campaign. We respect the work of Tina Rothery and hope that Cuadrilla will consider the risks to their own reputation of taking this action against her.
Facebook event for the court solidarity demonstration: https://www.facebook.com/events/247834732239427/
Tina Louise’s blog: http://tinalouiseuk.blogspot.co.uk/