Update: the sentences of all three men have been quashed on appeal as 'manifestly excessive'
Trade union members open letter
As trade unionists, we the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the four non-violent anti-fracking activists who have been convicted of 'causing a public nuisance', three of whom are now serving custodial sentences. We strongly condemn this judgement and the dangerous precedent it sets for the right to protest and take non-violent direct action against threats to the climate and the environment.
These are by far the longest prison sentences imposed on activists defending the environment since those jailed for the Mass Trespass in 1932. It can only be seen as politically motivated in support of a government that has shown it is prepared to ride roughshod over the democratic rights of citizens to achieve an end for which it has no popular support.
This is a clear example of the state acting in the interests of big business in the face of opposition to fracking by the community at Preston New Road, and across the UK more widely. It is important to recall the concerns raised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly in his report in 2016 regarding the "collusion between law enforcement authorities and private companies" in relation to fracking protests.
At the TUC Congress in 2018, the trade union movement called for a moratorium on fracking in England which has already been stopped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Many of us believe it should be banned in full. There is no safe fracking. It is not safe for the environment, water supplies, citizens or workers, or in addressing climate change concerns.