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A hark back to the days of high energy consumption.

Every Saturday morning I would find my father religiously reading the electricity meter and noting the figures in his small blue notebook. Sometimes as a token of privilege he would allow me to read the numbers out loud. Later on as my literacy improved he would give me the task of copying the long list of figures ,the last one in the row moving up like an escalator step. These figures were analysed and then an electricity management scheme would be implemented. This usually meant hastily switching off the electric fire off when I heard his car approach.

Just like most women in the 1960's housewives were pleased to see the back of coal fires. My mother would shudder at the thought of them. Her memories were not of harking back to a homely radiant heat at the heart of the home but of dirt and sheer hard work. Fire tending was generally left to the women who were left at home all day to be guardian of the house. A smokeless zone was declared in North Shields and the gossip was no longer around dirty open fires but the electric fire. This was now seated proudly in the hearth with its fake plastic coal emblazoned on the front as a stealth reminder as to the bad old days. The orange light which lit up the coal was run by an expensive orange light bulb only available from one shop in North Shields. The fact that these new fangled electric fires were more expensive than coal the convenience and cleanliness overcame this disadvantage.

I was one of the lucky ones our house was brand new. It was not leaky or had draughts which I noticed in other folks houses. However, I still spent most of my childhood swarthed in layers of hand knitted cardigans and carrying hot water bottles. Our mothers knitted garments because of a necessity to keep us warm the cheapest way. Not because they had a penchant for a hobby. Wool was cheap and accessible.

Mine or any of my peers childhood was not a period of cheap and plentiful energy. Whoever, said this did not live through the power cuts of the 70's.

For Harry Bradbury to say that coal is our heritage with an inference that we just love the dirty filthy stuff. To dig it up from the sea bed where it should just remain and pretend it is something the people from the North East should welcome back in their lives like the prodigal son. This is not only insulting but patronising. In order to sell his fracking and Underground Coal Gasification idea which he has renamed Deep Gas Winning. Bradbury talks about heritage and he talks about jobs. These we know are the carrot he believes we are stupid enough to nibble. Not once have I seen any data on these jobs. One can hazard a guess that they will not be local, plentiful or unskilled but professionals brought in from abroad.

In his PR laden speech he never once talks about the amount of money he has invested and how much Five Quarter are going to make out of Extreme Energy extraction off our beautiful North East Coast. We are led to believe he might even be doing this as a philanthropic gesture with little monetary gain for himself or his company.

Harry should realize that coal is dead in the North east. It is nothing more than a fossilized mineral. This is an age of progress and it is now the era for renewables, and sustainable clean energy. It should be left in place, maybe, for future generations to glean. If we are to keep within 2 degrees we cannot afford to pump any more carbon into the atmosphere this is ecocide.

So, let us unite and overcome all the PR bullshit and JUST LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND


This Article was written by Annette Hudspeth. A member of Frack Free Cleveland.

Author of 'Mummy Bears Vegan guide to Cooling the Planet'