Weston-super-Mare shows support for anti-fracking campaign

Poster for the anti-fracking film which has been screened in Weston.

Poster for the anti-fracking film which has been screened in Weston. - Credit: Archant

An American film director has travelled across the Atlantic to highlight the dangers of the controversial issue of fracking in Weston – and has won the support of a number of residents.

Mark Lichty is from Pennsylvania in the United States and is embarking on a UK tour with his film Groundswell Rising, which has been put together to highlight concerns about what he calls a ‘dangerous industry’. This included a screening in Weston.

Fracking is an industrial process where energy companies create a well by drilling into the ground before a water mixture is forced down at high pressure.

This creates cracks in the rocks, releasing gas which is then collected and used as an alternative energy source.

The practice has sparked safety and environmental concerns all over the world.

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However, North Somerset’s coastline has been declared as a possible location for petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDL). If a company has this licence it is able to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities, including fracking.

Mr Lichty told the Mercury he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received in Weston and he hopes we ‘do not make the same mistakes as the US’.

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He said: “This is important for me personally and it is important for this message to be out now. I was CEO of a company which was pro-fracking. In the US we have gone too far but we have a chance to stop it here.

“There are so many health implications which the gas companies don’t care about.

“People don’t understand that fracking is worse than burning coal. Methane is more harmful than coal.

“Hopefully people will now understand. Ten years ago I was looking for a cheaper option and 10 years ago everyone was pro-gas.

“We look at the little blue flame and we don’t think there is anything wrong.”

Weston resident, and lead member of community group Incredible Edible Weston, Johnny Boxshall, is working closely with Mr Lichty on this campaign.

He said: “Change has to be implemented. Fracking is anywhere between 60-85 per cent more damaging than the burning of the fossil fuel reserves which already exist.

“Any continued exploration for more should be a crime against humanity, health and the future of all bodies.”

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