Frack Free Somerset Campaign Design

This page details the group decisions
following the design process.
Deciding a Name
It was clear from the group of people in the coalition
that as much as we were campaigners fghting against
unconventional gas, we were also organising in
different ways for a better world, not dependent on
fossil fuels and all the social and ecological
harmful consequences. Therefore we wanted
something positive and affrmative. We had also
learned from our surveying about the Gas Field Free
Communities in Australia. Therefore we chose Frack
Free Somerset.
We also talked about geographic boundaries, and
some people suggested South West, or Frack Free
Bristol & Somerset/Avon and Somerset, however we
knew that other models had been effective because
they had been rooted to place - to a land base. Most
people in Somerset get fed up of the overarching city
of Bristol, so Somerset it was and stayed!
Deciding our Group Structure
We decided to form a coalition in order to share re-
sources and grow capacity locally. We chose a two-tier
structure:
• Working groups that are dedicated to more pro-active
organising around fracking (current examples include
Frack Free Chew Valley or Gasfeld Free Mendip)
• Supporter groups, who have declared their
support for a Somerset free of fracking and will
promote events & action alerts to their members
as and when (current examples include Transition
Glastonbury or The Mendip Society).
In compliment to this structure we have an active core
working group made up of contacts from the above
groups across the county. Some organisers in this
group do not organise with a local group and focus on
county-wide organising instead, while others do both
local and county scale events and activities.
Working as a coalition has been benefcial for us
because:
• We can share resources such as leafets, websites,
social media
• We have ‘optimum edge’ as we all have our own
networks & contacts, therefore increasing the outreach
that the campaign can have
• We have the ability to step back and take time out
when needed
• We share practical, emotional and moral support,
especially for those of us without an active group or
living in a very rural area
• It creates a consistent point of contact for the general
public & media
• We have can drawn on a wider pool of skills,
knowledge, wisdom and experience
Deciding Our Strategy
Our primary strategy has been to build the
infrastructure locally so that we are able to resist
planning applications and company moves to bring
unconventional gas into Somerset. The largest initial
work has been to support the establishment of a well
functioning coalition that can undertake all the
activities below. This has meant getting our
communication structures in place, how we make
decisions as a group, skilling ourselves up to challenge
industry myths and how to do effective outreach work,
getting a fundraising strategy in place and more.
As a coalition our key aims have been to:
• Support the establishment of well functioning local
groups (that have their own identities) as we observed
from the Gas Field Free Communities model that
place-based communities who deny access to local
land are at the forefront of being successful in
defeating unconventional gas
• Build the number of supporter groups of the coalition,
so that we have multiple networks that we can access
to send action alerts to and so forth, to maximise our
‘edge’.
• Have the response infrastructure in place to respond
to planning applications, which includes:
- Having a team of sympathetic experts ‘on
hand’ in advance of when the time comes that can
support us in our objections and help us identify our
material objections as well as being skilled up as
support from Frack Off, designed and led a
Community Outreach Training weekend. This was
designed to support the group to feel more confdent
about doing presentations, workshops and talks about
unconventional gas. It was a way to learn more about
the technical aspects of unconventional gas as well as
how to communicate more strategically.
This weekend greatly contributed to the wider groups
understanding of why we have been interacting with
the public in a certain way. Key points included:
• Scale - we are literally working village by village to
raise awareness. With leafet dropping, poster cam-
paigns & very local press. Therefore when we organise
a public meeting, especially if we are going in ‘blind’,
the focus is not on regional press or huge crowds, the
aim is to get that small working group of people who
stay at the end who are willing to take the next step
and form a local group.
• Every event is a way to support more organising to
happen - the aim of each public meeting is not just
to ‘raise awareness’ locally in some vague way - the
aim is to support that community to become more
organised. Therefore every event needs to have some
participatory aspect designed in, where people can talk
about their next steps as a community and ideally start
building some relationships towards creating a local
group.
When we organise events, our preference is always to
try and work with an established local group or
contact already existing in that area, because they will
have their own networks locally that you do not. It is
also more empowering for someone who has never
organised in a campaign before, to be supported to
make something happen rather than being treated as a
passive spectator. Therefore, even if slower or less
effcient, the priority is always to support others to
make things happen rather than going in blind as a
coalition (however this is necessary in some areas).
FRACKING IN
SOMERSET
WARNING: THIS AREA COULD BE AT RISK FROM HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (FRACKING), COAL BED METHANE EXTRACTION & UNCONVENTIONAL GAS DEVELOPMENTS
A worker samples water from a well at a coal bed methane drill site
There could be 2,100 wells across Somerset if CBM goes into full production
A water sample following fracking
Drilling slurry: a toxic mixture of lubricants, radioactive minerals & other chemicals
possible as a group to understand the planning
process and the bureaucratic resistance we can
undertake
- Have a large number of subscribers to our
email list that are willing to submit an objection to a
planning application
• Undertake other effective outreach work to build
power and awareness locally and nationally. For
example producing a Frack Free Somerset leafets,
documentary and other materials.
• Undertake solidarity work with other communities,
who can then support us into the future, for example
Frack Free Wales and the Balcombe Community
Protection Camp. It is important to us as a coalition
that we are not a NIMBY - not in my backyard
campaign - and that we use the campaign as a vehicle
to agitate that unconventional gas is not acceptable in
anyone’s community.
Deciding how we communicate
It was clear through mapping our resources that email
was a tool used by everyone in the group and the most
sensible option for how we communicate. We started
an internal email list, which over time as had
incremental design changes including adding a footer
with an etiquette policy, using subject lines for
different categories of email ‘for info only, for action’
and so forth, getting a contacts system in place and
more.
We are aware that information overload is a big con-
tributor to burn out therefore we enourage each local
group to develop their own email list so that we are not
all ‘spamming’ each other out and that unnecessary
information fow is kept to a minimum.
We also needed a way to communicate to the public so
we started a monthly newsletter. Being monthly means
that people, who experience increasing volumes of
email traffc, are more confdent in subscribing. We
can also use the email as an action alert system when
necessary. This monthly newsletter has been one of
our most powerful campaign tools - it generates dona-
tions, increases opportunities for people to get involved
(as they are regularly advertised in there), raises
awareness in a digestible way and also documents our
achievements as a group.
Deciding our Outreach Strategy
In May 2012, members of Frack Free Somerset with
DESIGN DECISIONS
An Evening with
Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith
The Impacts of
Unconventional Gas in Australia
Bath Citadel 7-9pm Monday 13th May 2013
Dr Lloyd-Smith’s presentation discusses
what is known about the industry’s chemical
use, the current evidence of chemical
releases to air and water, increases in
methane emissions and the problems
of dealing with the related wastes.
It will also focus on how communities across Australia from
all walks of life and all shades of politics have joined forces to
effectively resist the expansion of UG activities. The ‘Lock the
road’ movement has seen community after community declare
their road, street, suburb or village opposed to this industry and
has meant that despite regulatory permits and political
support, the UG industry cannot claim they have a social
license.
Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith is
a Senior Advisor to both
the National Toxics
Network (NTN) based in
AustraIIa and the PacIñc,
and to IPEN, an
international public
interest network
representing over 700
organisations in over 100
countries committed to a
toxics-free future. Mariann
has worked in the area
of chemicals’ policy and
waste management for
over two decades and was
an author of Australia’s
national management
plans for hazardous waste
& member of UN Expert
Group on Climate Change
and Chemicals.
Unconventional gas (UG) activities
have been rapidly expanding in
Australia with a predicted
40,000 wells to be developed
in the state of Queensland alone.
Community concerns over the potential contamination of
groundwater, surface waste, soil and air has also grown,
with much of the farming community and
environmentalists opposed to further development.
Coal Seam Gas drilling, known as Coal Bed Methane in the
UK, is set to come to Somerset.
For more information visit: www.frackfreesomerset.org Tel: 07999 564085
The Salvation Army Hall, Bath Citadel, Green Park Road BA1 1XE

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