Cheryl Atkinson outside Lancashire county Council celebrating no vote, June 2015

Stopping fracking: From Mark Ruffalo to the Nanas

How has the anti-fracking movement held back this industry?

Companies want to use fracking to extract dirty energy trapped in hard-to-reach pockets underground.

Fracking poses a risk to groundwater, the climate and the local environment.

Read on to find out more about the successful movement against fracking: a joint effort of local people, campaign groups, celebrities and – a gang of grandmothers.

Who wants to frack?

Most of the firms behind fracking aren't household names. But you'll most likely recognise at least one.

The accounts of Third Energy, which wants to frack in North Yorkshire, show that its ultimate parent company is Barclay’s Bank.

In 2014, then prime minister David Cameron said the UK would go "all out for shale". The government has awarded licences to fracking companies right across the country and offered tax breaks to the industry. The government also overturned Lancashire council's decision to reject fracking – flying in the face of local democracy.

Cuadrilla had their eyes on fracking in Lancashire for years. Other companies such as chemical giant INEOS also hold licences.

Who opposes fracking?

Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo (pictured) is perhaps the most recognisable person who opposes fracking. Other famous names who've publicly opposed fracking include fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance.

And then there are the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who have added their names to petitions against fracking.

A government survey shows that public support for shale gas is very low, fluctuating around 16% – whereas roughly a third of people oppose it. Anti-fracking groups spring up wherever fracking becomes a threat. There are nearly 300 groups in the UK to date.

Friends of the Earth has a huge community of local groups across the UK. Together we support people fending off fracking.

Are they all seasoned activists?

Many of the people fighting against fracking aren't your typical activists – some are completely new to campaigning.

"Before Cuadrilla applied to frack on our doorsteps I’d never done anything like this" says Barbara Richardson from Roseacre Awareness Group.

The anti-fracking Nanas are a great example (see image). The Nanas are notable for their yellow tabards, matching headscarves and tendency to hand out cakes. They've been united by one common cause – stopping fracking.

Most of the Nanas got involved to stop fracking in their home county of Lancashire. They've since stood hand-in-hand with other communities under threat.

In their own words

"I’m not one of these anti-corporate protestors that fracking campaigners are sometimes portrayed as. But I know I have to do something. I can’t let fracking put my family’s health at risk." Monica Gripaios, Yorkshire (pictured).

“We chose the nan image because we like what the Lancastrian matriarch stands for: rolling her sleeves up, getting things done, but still having time for a nice cup of tea.” Rebecca Fitton, one of the anti-fracking Nanas.

"Our friendship has been forged in difficult times, and this community which banded together to fight fracking is now more like family." Pat Davies, Lancashire.

Why don't people like fracking?

Like others, Steve Mason (pictured) is worried about the legacy of fracking on his children's future – particularly its contribution to climate breakdown.

Fracking has consequences for people and the environment. Local households can expect rises in both noise levels and heavy lorries needed for the drilling. Furthermore, experience in the US – where fracking has happened – has shown it poses risks to groundwater.

And all for whose benefit? Fracking is unlikely to lower energy bills and won't lead to a jobs boom. The UK is blessed with vast renewable energy resources that present a real solution to our energy needs.

Why hasn't fracking happened?

Despite years of effort from the fracking industry, local communities have managed to hold them off. So what's gone wrong for the industry?

Local people like Barbara Richardson (pictured) have been writing to their councillors and MPs. Backed by Friends of the Earth and other campaigning organisations, they've been campaigning side-by-side with other local residents against fracking in Lancashire.

And after years of resistance, a moratorium (temporary ban) was finally announced by UK government in October 2019.

There have been bans and suspensions in other countries and states, including in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. New York State has banned fracking due to "significant health risks".

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland have all put a stop to fracking.

Mark Rylance does his bit to save Sherwood Forest from fracking

"This wonderful and historic forest is under threat."

Watch the video to find out why the Wolf Hall and Dunkirk actor is against fracking.

Join a Climate Action group

Local communities need your support