Thanks to Morgan from Frack Free Isle of Wight for sharing this report and Patrick Eden for the photos. Ed
More than one hundred and thirty Islanders came together on Sunday at Hanover Point, Compton Bay, braving the wind and rain to demonstrate their concern about potential oil and gas drilling on the Isle of Wight.
This followed Thursday’s announcement by license-holder UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) that they intend to accelerate plans to drill for oil on the Island. The gathering was part of ‘No Fracking Way’, a national day of action which saw thousands of people take action in 35 counties across the UK.
United for a climate-stable future
The event was hosted by Frack Free Isle of Wight, a group of local residents united for a just, sustainable and climate-stable future for the Island.
Waving handmade banners and flags, and singing protest songs, the mood of the crowd was both festive and resolute. Islanders of all ages and walks of life were welcomed to the microphone to speak their concerns about the prospect of oil and gas drilling on the Island.
Impact of fossil fuel extraction
The impacts of fossil fuel extraction on the Isle of Wight would be both local and global, a theme which was explored throughout the morning. One colourful sign read
“Keep Our Island Frack Free”.
Heather White, a landscape ecologist from Freshwater, evoked the surroundings of the gathering in her remarks, gesturing to the downs and open ocean. She said,
“This is such a beautiful island, we all want to keep it pristine.”
Another sign echoed the call of the international climate change movement to “Keep It In The Ground IoW,” referring to the need to keep 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves underground to avert catastrophic climate change.
“We can find much better alternatives”
Derek Farrell, an electrician from Shanklin, said,
“We’ve had enough fossil fuels, to pull more out of the ground now is total insanity.”
Tanja Rebel, from West Cowes, also described her concerns as being on a global scale. She said,
“I’m rebelling against fracking on the Isle of Wight, fracking in this country, fracking in this world. It’s wrong, unethical, it’s not sustainable, and we can find much better alternatives, so let’s wake up.”
While UKOG’s chairman said Thursday that drilling in Arreton could be economically viable “without massive hydraulic fracturing,” commonly known as fracking, Frack Free Isle of Wight is determined to show that no form of drilling will move forward without massive community resistance.
UN Climate Talks
Morgan Curtis, of Freshwater, who was in Paris as a youth delegate at the recent UN Climate Talks, said,
“We as a group are against all forms of oil and gas drilling on the Isle of Wight. All of our concerns that we have, about the climate, about health, about democracy, they apply to any form of oil and gas drilling.”
She described hearing the stories of young people from the countries most vulnerable to climate change around the world, and the failure of the Paris Agreement to mandate fossil fuels stay underground.
“It’s up to us. We are going to keep fossil fuels in the ground, those of us that love the places that we do.”
Later on Sunday afternoon, Frack Free Isle of Wight held a public meeting in Arreton, where UKOG will likely first apply for permission to drill in April.
Close to fifty local residents crowded the community center for a presentation on the potential impacts of the project, and an energetic discussion was held that showed the strength of feeling against the project.
The next Frack Free Isle of Wight public meeting will be at Totland Church Hall on February 23rd, from 7-9pm. All are welcome.
Videos from the gathering on Sunday can be seen on the Frack Free Isle of Wight Facebook Page.
The BBC traveled over for the event and the gathering made the BBC South news.
Image: © Patrick Eden