Anti-fracking rally at Marsh Lane, 16th September 2017

Blog post by Deborah Smith.

On Saturday morning I was waiting to take the bus to the appropriately-named Coal Aston, just over the edge of the county border into Derbyshire. I knew I was in the right place when I spotted the SCA’s Jenny Carpenter, who had knocked up a hand-placard the night before, and stepped up for an impromptu bus-stop interview for Sheffield Live, explaining calmly and persuasively the dangers of fracking – the fossil fuel industry’s dirty, dangerous, untested last-gasp.

Off the bus, I met up with Janet Milton, who’d brought the South Yorkshire Fossil Free banner with her – big, bright, and orange. As we marched the two miles to the proposed fracking site itself, a field in the village of Marsh Lane, we were encouraged by the many passing drivers enthusiastically honking their horns, waving and giving us the thumbs up – no negative response at all.

Janet Milton of SYFF persuades Chris Broome to sign the petition to SYPA

Janet Milton of SYFF persuades Chris Broome to sign the petition to SYPA

There were three marches altogether, the other two from Eckington and Mosborough, and by 2pm hundreds of people had converged on the field where INEOS has applied for permission to dig a exploration well for shale gas fracking. Alongside representatives from Friends of the Earth, Chesterfield Climate Alliance, and Green Party councillors were countless local people who had turned out in protest at this threat to their quality of living, their health and that of the beautiful countryside around us. When asked if they lived nearby, though, many added that they were horrified by the idea of fracking happening anywhere, not just in their own ‘backyard’ (and plenty were eager to sign our petition, calling for South Yorkshire Pension Authority to divest their fund from fossil fuels).

It was heartening to see how many had made the trek from other proposed fracking sites much further afield. Among the speeches was a letter from a woman currently involved in the blockade at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, North Yorkshire – a warm-hearted paean to the importance of cake for any kind of community solidarity.

The speeches were rounded off by a rousing chorus from the Sheffield Socialist Choir – who will also be performing in Sheffield city centre for Friends of the Earth’s International Day of Action, coming up on 14th October.