UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s country house has been turned into a mock fracturing site as Greenpeace steps up its anti-fracking campaign ahead of the Queen’s speech to Parliament on Wednesday.
The environmental watchdog is protesting against a reform measure set to be brought in by the Queen, as she opens Parliament, that will allow fracking firms to drill under people’s homes without gaining prior permission.
Early on Wednesday morning, a group of protesters descended on Cameron’s constituency home in Oxfordshire, a period cottage in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean, to cordon it off for presumably imaginary drilling operations.
(Click here to view a Greenpeace YouTube video of the action.)
The protesters in hard hats and high-visability jackets sealed off the properties front gate and erected a sign reading, “We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home”.
Another group of campaigners also attempted to deliver a “lottery-style over-sized cheque for £50 [$83] – the maximum compensation ministers are willing to pay to individual home and landowners for allowing companies to drill under their property,” Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace was later forced to abandon the protest after police ordered them off the site.
This led to a facetious remark from Greekpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale, saying: "We have to say the police have a point, you shouldn’t be allowed to just turn up outside someone’s home and start fracking under their garden without their permission.
"But following today’s announcement we’re one big step closer to a law that will compel police to side with the frackers over homeowners."
Amongst a raft of other measures, the Queen is expected to introduce changes to trespass legislation in her speech, paving the way for oil and gas companies to run pipelines under people’s homes and land.
Clydesdale had earlier on Wednesday said: "David Cameron wants to rob people of their right to stop fracking firms drilling under their homes – surely he won’t mind if we kick off the under-house fracking revolution below his own garden.”
It is unlikely, however, that Greenpeace has the equipment or technical expertise to safely carry out any fracking at Cameron’s home.
"Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change,” Clydesdale continued.
"As ministers chase their imaginary energy Eldorado, the real solutions to boost our energy security, like slashing energy waste and backing renewables, are being sidelined. We’ll all pay a price for their shale craze.”