A small village in North Lancashire is preparing to send an extra special Valentine in 2016.
Knott End, a small village tucked away on a peninsula north of Blackpool, famed only for its brief connection to the painter L.S Lowry (he painted the Knott End ferry during his holidays there) is preparing to demonstrate how much they love their village.
For over a decade, this little place has battled with the energy giant, Halite, fighting to stop this fossil fuel Goliath storing gas in salt caverns under the River Wyre. Despite objections from Lancashire County Council, Wyre Borough Council and Knott End council, not to mention thousands of Wyre residents that the storage scheme could pose significant risks to both people living in the area and the environment, Halite has been given consent.
The proposed scheme is within an area of a large number of homes, a significant concern since similar schemes in the US have resulted in explosions and, in the recent case case of Porter Ranch in the USA, a gas leak that affected the health of thousands of residents and took months to stem. There are also concerns about the impact on the wildlife of Morecambe Bay, (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) as many gallons of highly-concentrated brine are pumped out into the sea. It seems as though these are deemed insignificant against profit and the firm has been given the green light by the current government.
Sadly this scene is becoming only too familiar with families fighting to protect the areas where they live from increasing threats from energy firms, keen to make vast profits at the expense of the environment. It seems incredible that the shareholders of energy firms are deemed more important than clean water, air and land. Fracking opponents point to the millions of gallons of radioactive water produced by hydraulic fracking and the unacceptable risk posed through leaks.
At a time when 195 countries have adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal, the UK government appears short-sighted. As nations strive to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, a unique opportunity to pioneer and boost the renewable energy sector has presented itself. Investment now could reap dividends for many generations to come, not just in terms of the environment but also our economy.
But love will save this place , a true, fearsome love of our land, our air, our water and our love for our children.
‘The power of this ferocious love is what the resource companies and their advocates in government inevitably underestimate, precisely because no amount of money can extinguish it.‘
Our village is beloved and we will fight for the safety of its people and our land. As communities come together in their millions in unprecedented grass-roots movements determined to defend their little corner of the globe, they will continue to fight for the land that is theirs. They will battle in the name of love and ultimately, because this is the strongest human motivator, they will win.
(Knott End will be taking its Valentine ( a large collection of postcards) to the energy minister Amber Rudd and my baby boy and I will be with them.)