More than 100 women will evoke the spirit of the Suffragettes as they travel to Parliament dressed as the early-20th century campaigners on Wednesday (12 September) to raise public awareness over fracking and protest failures of local democracy.
Predominantly hailing from Lancashire, where several fracking projects are about to begin – the women will be protesting against fracking forced upon communities, often overruling local government decisions against the controversial practice, and demonstrating for communities to be given the power to decide whether they want to allow fracking projects in their constituencies.
The 21st century Lancashire Suffragettes have invited all MPs to join them and make clear which side they are on when it comes to the issue of fracking. The women are asking MPs not to support the proposed planning rule changes over permitted development in fracking applications – this policy is currently out for consultation. The women will also present their message on a giant postcard to the Department for Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS).
With it being 100 years since the women’s suffrage movement gained the right to vote for women, the campaigners will be holding an event in Parliament Square to highlight the many issues relating to democracy arising from the fracking development process.
With cross-party support and support from NGOs Friends of the Earth, 350.org and Greenpeace, the event will see several MPs, politicians and campaigners give speeches, including the Green Party’s Baroness Jenny Jones and former leaders Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett.
Award-winning actress Emma Thompson sent a message of support ahead of the Parliament Square event: “Everyone should know the story of Lancashire, where local democracy was flushed away by the government along with the decision of the local people to resist fracking in the area. Fracking is a ludicrous way of creating energy and flies in the face of everything this government pledged to support in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Support the Lancashire women and force this government to listen.”
Dot Kelk, an environmental campaigner who will travel from Lancashire added: “We have brought our message from Lancashire to London: local democracy must be respected. On a local level, communities must be able to make planning decisions that are not interfered with on a national level. Otherwise, what is the point in having local governance?
"We say: let communities decide. Dirty energy infrastructure projects that have health, environment and climate impacts for years to come, should not be forced upon communities that have already clearly said no.
"The Suffragettes fought hard to give women a voice, but even today, we find we still can't be heard by politicians."
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: "In July, the government quietly approved fracking in Lancashire – abandoning its commitment to tackle climate change by prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels, and defying democratic decisions made at the local level to block this dangerous drilling.
"Just 18 per cent of people in the UK support fracking, while 85 per cent back clean renewable energy. With MPs and women from across the country debating fracking next week in Parliament, ministers must listen to the public's serious concerns and end their dash for gas."
The speeches will begin at around 12.30pm to 1pm, beginning after the end of Prime Minister’s Questions.