An open letter to my constituents

On 19 August, I took part in a peaceful local protest against fracking.  I sat down on a path just off the road and at the entrance to a drilling site run by Cuadrilla.  Along with 29 others, I was arrested. I was subsequently charged with obstructing the highway and failing to comply with police conditions imposed on the protest.

I want the people I represent in Brighton Pavilion to be the first to know that I’ll be pleading not guilty to these charges when I appear in court on 16 October.   I also want to explain what led me to take this action in Balcombe a few months ago.

The campaign to reduce the threat of climate change has been incredibly important to me throughout my political life.

Fracking for shale gas seriously undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis, which in turn means that our children and grandchildren will inherit a more dangerous world. I know that this is very important to large numbers of my constituents, because so many of you have written to me about the risks that fracking poses to our environment.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt today  - in the UK and elsewhere. Last month saw the publication of the most comprehensive report on climate science ever produced. It highlighted the need for urgent action and  set out the increasing risks of delay - from more expensive food and political instability overseas to increased drought, flooding and heatwaves.

The latest scientific evidence suggests that as much as 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. The widespread use of shale gas is quite simply incompatible with the UK’s international commitments to keep global warming below two degrees.   But instead of listening to the scientists, or the huge number of people and organisations who have concerns about fracking, the Government appears determined on a reckless and irresponsible new dash for gas.

I’m in the privileged position of being able to make the case in Parliament. I’ve tabled motions, arranged debates, put questions to ministers, and spoken out in the media. But the Government is flying in the face of climate science and ignoring evidence that fracking won’t cut energy bills here in the UK. Ministers refuse to accept proposals, supported by a huge coalition of charities, for a radically more ambitious programme of energy saving to make all of our homes more energy efficient. This would cut bills, tackle fuel poverty and create hundreds of thousands of quality jobs across the country.  Alongside much better policies to support local community and cooperatively owned renewable energy schemes, this would mean you are no longer held to ransom by the big six energy companies.

There is a proud tradition of non-violent direct action in this country.    In joining the peaceful  protest I wanted to send a clear message to the Government, and to support the people at the proposed fracking site in Balcombe who were standing up to be counted.

It’s likely that there will be a trial next year.  I want to reassure you that you will be able to contact me as usual, and I will continue to hold my weekly surgeries, attend local meetings and represent Brighton Pavilion in parliamentary debates.

Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch to offer their support, and I hope this open letter goes some way towards explaining why I believe in the importance of “speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly” – a phrase from Gandhi that continues to resonate today.

Caroline Lucas,

MP, Brighton Pavilion

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