Friday, 10 January 2014
Flares at Barton Moss
I will begin this post with a caveat - any movement or group will attract its fair share of idiots, with whom the majority of that movement would prefer not to be identified with. For example, there are plenty of people who seem to support shale development with whom I would prefer not to be associated.
Nevertheless, having in recent months experienced at first hand dishonesty from an anti-fracking protest group, this post seems necessary, although I am loathe to write it.
In recent weeks we have seen continued protest outside IGas's drilling site near Manchester. While this protest hasn't attracted quite the same amount of media attention as Balcombe did (perhaps the greater distance from London is a factor), the apparent firing of a flare gun at a police helicopter landing at Barton airfield did make many national news outlets.
The accusation prompted a rapid denial from the organisers of the protest camp. However, comments on blogs associated with the camp appear to paint a different picture (see the comments on this blog).
Again, another caveat - while these posts, apparently from protest camp members, seem genuine, there is no way of confirming this, so I would welcome any correction in this regard if required.
These posts appear to show that the protest organisers knew that a flare had been fired, and who had fired it, but that the negative publicity attracted by admitting this would have been too difficult to face, and therefore the decision for outright denial was taken instead.
The purpose of this post is not to criticise the main body of protestors. There will always be people willing to hijack genuine protests for more nefarious ends, and I can imagine that preventing this from happening is a very difficult challenge for organisers. It seems that they have acted swiftly in ejecting the flare-firer from their camp.
My particular concern, however, is the lack of honesty from the protest organisers. Rather than admit to an idiot, now ejected, in their ranks, they have chosen outright denial.
Both sides of the shale debate will of course always try to marshall the available evidence such that their position seems the more reasonable - this is the nature of debate over heated topics, particularly when further subjected to the polarising glare of the media. However, in this case the sheer chutzpah to issue a flat out denial, when knowing this not to be the case, shows in my opinion a rather concerning attitude to honesty.