by Gareth Hughes
My colleague in the UK, Green MP Caroline Lucas, is on trial this week following her arrest during anti-fracking protests last summer.
She had joined hundreds of peaceful protestors during the “summer of discontent’ in the sleepy village of Balcombe, West Sussex.
83% of locals oppose fracking in the beautiful area, and hundreds of people came from around the UK to support them in their bid to stop drilling company Cuadrilla.
Here she explains why she took a stand….
This week marks the start of my trial at Brighton Magistrates Court, following my arrest at Balcombe last August for taking part in a peaceful protest against fracking.
Along with four others, I am charged with obstructing the highway and failing to follow police instructions to move to a specified protest area.
We are all pleading not guilty.
I have been touched by the good wishes of many constituents who have contacted me to let me know of their support for my actions.
And I want to assure all my constituents that they will be able to contact my office as usual. I will be working around the hours of court proceedings to ensure that I continue to fulfil my parliamentary and constituency responsibilities, and continue to represent the residents of Brighton Pavilion.
Working to address the threat of climate change has been a priority for me throughout my political life.
I know too that this is very important to large numbers of my constituents, because so many of them have written to me about the environmental risks posed by fracking, and the urgency of tackling climate change.
As an MP, I’m in the privileged position of being able to make the case in Parliament. I’ve tabled motions, championed debates, put questions to Ministers, and spoken out in the media – and will continue to do so.
But the Government is ignoring the evidence, ignoring the climate science, and ignoring the enormous benefits of a secure and affordable energy system based on renewables and efficiency.
Instead they are offering the fossil fuel companies generous tax breaks as well as senior roles within Government itself.
Climate scientists and experts are clear that emissions from nations like the UK need to be reduced much faster than they are at the moment.
We need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy, along with policies to keep the vast majority of known fossil fuels in the ground, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The window for action is closing fast.
As a result, I decided to join the peaceful protest to send a clear message to the Government, as well as to support and join those people at the proposed fracking site in Balcombe who were standing up to be counted.
There is a proud tradition of non-violent direct action in this country, and I believe that using peaceful means to try to stop a process that could cause enormous harm is not only reasonable but also morally necessary.
I will not have recourse to any public funds in order to fight my case.
Caroline Lucas – Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion