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FFS Design Overview

FFS Design Overview

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Published by NicoleEmptyCages
FFS Overview
FFS Overview

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Published by: NicoleEmptyCages on Nov 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This design report documents the design process undertaken in planning and implementing a local campaign to prevent ‘fracking’ from taking place in Somerset.

Next Steps
At the end of the meeting I asked those who had attended to fill in their details and commit to either being in a working group or on a newsletter. People also donated and soon enough a group was formed via a simple google list ‘Mendip fracking action’. I knew as the group was forming that some design thinking would be needed to counter the threat of fracking to Somerset, by applying this thinking I could ‘stack functions’ and combine my organising with my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

What is Permaculture Design?
The origins of permaculture describe permaculture as (Permanent Agriculture) - the conscious design and maintenance of cultivated ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems. The core of permaculture has always been in supplying a design toolkit for human habitation. It is these design principles, which have been developed from observing natural systems and indigenous knowledge systems, that can be applied to everything from gardens to livelihoods. Permaculture draws from an understanding of systems and therefore the focus is on beneficial relationships between elements for example groups of species that benefit each other e.g. a forest garden. Looking at the relationships between elements we can apply this thinking to elements within any system. Fracking and resistance to it, can be viewed as a system with all of the different actors - the companies, councils, local groups, websites and so forth and this design explores the relationships between them. Contamination of water as a result of various materials leaching out of fracked rocks into the fracking fluid. Of particular concern are toxic elements like arsenic that can be brought to the surface by this process.

How can design be applied to campaigns?
There is a growing amount of resources exploring permaculture design’s application to non-land based design. I aim to contribute to this body of knowledge by exploring how by applying ecological principles local campaigns or resistance movements can be more effective (obtain more yields), save energy, time and resources and ultimately bring us into closer alignment of creating a permanent culture where humans are in sustainable relationship with their landbases.

Why this design?
In January 2012 a friend of mine involved in national campaign group, Frack Off, who organise around hydraulic fracturing, asked if I could help organise a public meeting for the Glastonbury date of their National Tour. Already engulfed in projects, I begrudgingly agreed and on the 18th February a public information evening took place in Glastonbury.

Integrate rather than segregate
Around 6 weeks later a second meeting was held with a smaller number of people to explore how we could build a campaign. In between this time period I had begun applying design thinking and had made contact with other Somerset groups also working on fracking in Frome & Keynsham. Within a small number of emails there was a consensus that we are stronger together and so the idea of Frack Free Somerset was born and that process is explored through this design.



What is Fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique used to extract hydrocarbons trapped in certain types of rock. In particular the widespread use of fracking is being driven by the expansion in shale gas extraction.

* The quantity of water involved in the fracking process in a climate of drought, water resource pressures and the needs of the agricultural community in Somerset * Radioactive Contamination. Radioactive isotopes (such as radium-226) can also be leached out of rocks the fracking fluid passes through. Biological concentration of these materials up the food chain would be the largest concern. * Food supply contamination via contaminated water. * Fracking has also been linked with air pollution, due to the production of ozone and leaks of a variety of volatile chemicals. * Fracking has also been associated with earthquakes, most notoriously in the UK in Lancashire. * Fracking also demands an industrial landscape and an increase in traffic, the infrastructure of which has its own pollution consequences. *Fracking also extinguishes any opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a county or national level.

Why should we be concerned?
There is a substantial amount of evidence documenting the side effects of hydraulic fracturing, the majority of which are related to water contamination. The main causes of concern include: * Methane contamination of ground water. * The toxic chemicals (and their carcinogenic properties) used in the process.

What is shale gas?
Shale gas is natural gas that is trapped in impermeable shale rock, as opposed to more conventional natural gas deposits that are trapped below a layer of impermeable rock. Therefore simply drilling down to it is not enough and the rock must also be fractured in order to allow the gas to escape.

Moved to Action
I had already been semi-aware of fracking and its dangerous possibilities however, I was not aware however that it could happen on my doorstep, in the Mendip Hills of Somerset. As the Frack Off group showed the video Fracking Hell, and spoke passionately about fracking, all of my doubts about not having enough time to get involved flew out the window. As the prime directive of permaculture states, “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children”, as written by Bill Mollison in his designers manual. With an activity that threatens the water, soil and communities of Somerset, I feel applying design and taking responsibility to organise, is permaculture in action.

How does hydraulic fracturing work?
Hydraulic fracturing uses pressurised fluid to free trapped gas. Wells are drilled and the fracking fluid injected into them under high pressure to crack the rock. The fracking fluid consists of water, sand and a massive amount of chemicals. Millions of gallons of water (and hundreds of tons of chemicals) are used to frack a well.


Frack Free Somerset Campaign Design

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