a small group of protestors gathered outside the marriott hotel in swiss cottage this evening where the 'unconventional shale gas conference' is taking place today and tomorrow.
click on image for larger version. 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
the protest was called by 'frack off (london)' and 'london rising tide' and had an irish theme complete with leprechaun costume in recognition of st patrick's day, and in solidarity with activists facing the arrival of the process in ireland.
the notes to the conference compare the rush to fracking around europe to the oil boom years of north america, and boast that this emerging source of energy is taking centre stage in the media, in energy markets, and throughout environmental legislation.
the shale 'fracking' process is hugely energy inefficient, dangerous, and highly polluting, according to much independent research. it involves the use of a toxic mix of water, sand, and hundreds of dangerous chemicals, solvents, and carcinogens, pumped at very high pressure into the ground to break apart rock fissures and release the trapped oil reserves.
where it was recently used near blackpool, the operation had to be stopped after causing earthquakes in the area. tremors are a well-documented effect of fracking, along with severe pollution of the water table. in some area of north america, residents have complained, after local fracking operations, of being able to set fire to the water coming out of their domestic taps.
despite all the evidence of dangers, it seems we are being prepared for a media drive to promote the process. just this week, perhaps by co-incidence, the bbc pop science show 'bang goes the theory' presented an item on fracking which completely played down the controversy and dangers and only interviewed one pro-industry spokesman.
the item betrayed an unscientific and biased stance from the bbc, and i think is worthy of complaint. watch the clip on the iplayer, make up your own mind, and if you agree, call them on 03700100222 or complain online.
this week's conference follows on from a similar one last november at which larger protests took place. there is an excellent youtube film of those protests with some more information on the issues.
at the protest today, police had built a nice little pen opposite the hotel on the opposite side of the road, but the activists for the most part declined this offer and entered the hotel grounds for a short while and then posed at the main entrance gates with a very large 'frack off' banner. they used a megaphone and chants to good effect too.
a field intelligent team officer (FIT) took photos of all the protestors before they left peacefully after a little over an hour.
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11881