Protesters staged a mock fracking site around UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s country home on Wednesday, to protest a looming British law that would allow companies to drill under homes without permission.
The Greenpeace protesters arrived in hard hats and high-visibility jackets, and set up a fence line around Cameron’s home in Oxfordshire, a period cottage in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean. Another group of campaigners delivered a mock check to Cameron’s front door for for £50 [$83], representing the highest level of compensation the upcoming law would give to home and landowners should a franking company drill under their property, according to Greenpeace.
The signs on the fence line read “We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home,” and directed complaints to the phone number for Cameron’s office.
Modern technology allows fracking companies to drill horizontal well bores up to 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the rig’s position, in order to reach the shall oil and gas deposits that are then broken open by pumping high-pressure fracturing fluid into the shale formation. British law currently requires drilling companies to get permission from home and land owners if the well bore would travel underneath their property.
The proposed law — which is part of the upcoming legislative program from the Conservative and Lib-Dem coalition, and will be announced in a speech by the Queen today — would end that requirement to speed up the fracking process.
“David Cameron wants to rob people of their right to stop fracking firms drilling under their homes,” said Greekpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale. “Surely he won’t mind if we kick off the under-house fracking revolution below his own garden.”
A YouGov poll carried out for Greenpeace found that the change in the law is opposed by 74 percent of the British populace, and 46,000 people have joined a legal block set up by the environmentalist group.
“Not only does this bill defy public opinion, it denies people a voice,” said Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. “To allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few.”
Supporters of the legislative change in Parliament argue it will help improve Britain’s energy security, and the shale gas industry itself welcomed the proposal as “very timely.”
As for Wednesday morning’s protesters, they were eventually forced to leave Cameron’s property when police ordered them off.
“We have to say the police have a point,” Clydesdale observed. “You shouldn’t be allowed to just turn up outside someone’s home and start fracking under their garden without their permission.”