Swindon Greens to join fracking protest against Barclays

Swindon Area Green Party will be joining a demonstration opposing Barclays’ investment in fracking at midday on Saturday outside the Barclays branch on Regent Street.

The demonstration, which is also being supported by the Swindon Climate Action Network and the Swindon People’s Assembly Against Austerity, will aim to raise awareness of Barclays’ 97% stake in Third Energy, the company that has recently been given a licence to frack in Ryedale in North Yorkshire despite the local council having voted against it.

The demonstration is part of a wider week of action across the UK being organised by national and international groups including Friends of the Earth, People & Planet, Frack Free Ryedale, 350.org, SumOfUs, and Move Your Money.

“This is an opportunity for the people of Swindon to act in solidarity with Ryedale, raise awareness of the damaging impacts of fracking, and encourage Barclays to reinvest its money into renewable energy,” said Andy Bentley, Chair of Swindon Area Green Party.

“With the tide turning against fracking companies, Barclays is simply damaging its own brand through its association with this environmentally damaging, noisy, and polluting industry.

The bigger picture that affects us all is that burning fracked gas will damage the environment and make it impossible for us to meet our obligations to tackle climate change.”

Public support for fracking has been falling over the past year and hit an all-time low of 37.3% earlier this month, contrasting starkly with 73% support for onshore wind.

Concerns about the technology include disruption and noise from heavy-good vehicles, the risk of water contamination and earthquakes, and the wider issue of natural gas being a fossil fuel, which experts agree need to be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Government policy, however, has prioritised relatively unpopular energy technologies such as fracking and nuclear ahead of renewable energy, which has a consistently high level of public support and offers more investment, involvement, and jobs for local communities. A report commissioned by South West Green MEP Molly Scott Cato published last year demonstrates how the South West can provide 100% of its energy needs through renewables.

“The Green Party calls for investment in long-term renewables and for fossil fuels to stay in the ground,” said Bentley.

“Barclays would do better to shift its investments into industries and technologies that don’t damage the planet. The report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato has already shown that the South West could be self-sufficient in renewable energy, and Swindon has made some good steps in the right direction with its investment in local solar projects.”