A small army of volunteers from the local community have launched an anti-fracking protest. Protesters are trying to block a site where the fracking company is planning a giant new drilling operation close to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and their local community.
Fracking is the process of injecting a mix of chemicals, sand and water into the ground in order to free up oil or gas for extraction.
The oil and gas industry, is now one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. It accounts for almost 55% of global energy consumption. It is also considered a major contributor to global warming and is responsible for some of the highest air pollution levels in the world.
Fracking has been found in areas of the UK near to areas of intense seismic activity – which can cause tremors that knock people off their feet and cause the ground to vibrate and shake.
The protest camp has been set up in the village of St Germain-en-Laye, with some 400 campers from around 35 countries. They want to stop drilling operations that will be carried out near two small villages in the French Charente region: Arnaudville and Villeneuve d’Ascqoue, near the border with Belgium.
“We want the World Heritage Site to be declared as a protection zone for human settlements,” the protesters who have been gathering near the camp told The Local.
“There are already five archaeological sites identified nearby and the local people want this to be extended.”
“We are not against fossil fuels themselves. We are against the destruction of the living environment.”
One of the reasons for the protest camp is to protect the ancient village of Charleville, with its long history of agriculture, which is close to Villeneuve d’Ascqoue. The village was built in the 7th and 8th centuries by Berbers who lived around the Pyrenees and held an important role in the history of the area.
The protesters from local group Cope-France protested under a huge banner reading “Château Charleville des Pays Bas” (char-lev-lee-ba-see), in reference to the nearby Chateau de Charente.
Cope-France also want to raise awareness of fracking, which they say has been used in over 140 countries.