Swansea University Bay Campus shut down by residents and students campaigning against fracking research.
Today at 6am, as part of the Reclaim the Power camp, concerned residents from Swansea, students and graduates, dressed as mad scientists, shut down construction of Swansea University’s Bay Campus.
There are two protestors locked on, one up a tripod and a number of the group are inside the site and have dropped a banner which says ‘No Fracking’. Outside the site the banner reads ‘Dim Ffracio’ in Welsh. The protesters were angered by tens of millions of public money being funnelled into research on fracking via Swansea University’s new Energy Safety Research Institute.
Local Swansea resident Jac Bastian said:
“We are here today to stand with communities across Wales and the UK who are resisting their local areas becoming fracking sites. Not only is it dangerous and unnecessary but people across the UK don’t want it. If we are going to avoid dangerous climate change we need to leave unconventional gas in the ground.”
Swansea University is currently building a second campus and innovation park on land previously used by BP, who gifted it to the university. Funding for the project was made available by the Welsh Government.
Today’s action was part of Reclaim the Power, a six day camp in Blackpool, organised by local residents and a coalition of climate, social and economic activists. Over 1000 people have joined the camping taking part in direct action against gas drilling, as well as sharing skills and knowledge in a variety of workshops.
Student network People & Planet has been speaking out against the ties between UK universities and the fossil fuel industry as part of the Fossil Free campaign. A campaign to break Swansea University’s ties to the industry has been gaining pace since 2013, including a growing petition calling for divestment. The research at Swansea’s Energy Safety Research Institute will be focused on long-term ‘strengths’ in petroleum and chemical processing – particularly fracking. The primary collaborator will be BP. Research on fracking already being funded by Research Councils UK has been focused on increasing the amount of gas that can be extracted.
The Norwegian committee on research ethics has told universities that fossil fuel research is ethically irresponsible if it leaves Norway unable to meet its UN climate targets. Burning the gas extracted through fracking will mean we have no chance of meeting these targets in the UK and divert essential research and development funding away from renewables towards fossil fuels.
Heather Corvid, a student with national campaign network People & Planet, said:
“The fossil fuel industry is unequivocally driving us towards a global climate crisis: we will not keep dangerous climate change at bay without halting our extraction of fossil fuels. Ironically the Bay Campus will end up under water if research they are doing means we frack our future.”
Support a Fossil Free Swansea University: sign the petition now