Sheffield rock climber speaks out against fracking

A rock climber from Sheffield has spoken out about the importance of nature and outdoor spaces and the need to protect them from fracking.

International rock climber Pete Whittaker returned to Wharncliffe Crag – a popular climbing spot near Sheffield – which is close to land that is licensed for potential fracking. 

Pete returned to his hometown of Sheffield to talk about the need to defend our natural environment from fracking.

Pete returned to his hometown of Sheffield to talk about the need to defend our natural environment from fracking.

Pete, who is a brand ambassador for Patagonia, produced a candid video outlining his objections to the expansion of shale-gas extraction.

Talking about his connection to the outdoors, and the threats to nature posed by fracking, Pete said: “For me, nature is about being outside and challenging myself on new climbing routes. The most important thing about nature is that it’s there for everybody – nobody owns it.

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“Wharncliffe Crag is an amazing nature spot, that was at the forefront of UK rock climbing as it developed in the 1880s. The place is popular to this day among climbers, walkers, bikers, trail runners and more. Just two hundred metres to the east and west, the land is licensed for fracking.

Campaigners in Marsh Lane are fighting back against fracking

Campaigners in Marsh Lane are fighting back against fracking

“Anyone who loves the English countryside should be concerned about fracking, and I think we should stand up for our environment.

“It makes me sad to think that there are companies out there who can only see nature as something to be exploited for profit – they’re completely blind to its importance for our health and well being.”

Eckington, which lies just past Sheffield’s border, has also been at the centre of the national fracking debate since the nearby village of Marsh Lane was earmarked as a potential drilling site two years ago.

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Pete joined Friends of the Earth and Patagonia to speak of the importance of protecting the environment against fracking

Pete joined Friends of the Earth and Patagonia to speak of the importance of protecting the environment against fracking

A recent planning inquiry was set up to decide a matter ruling in favour of petrochemical giant Ineos drilling in the area, but campaigners have refused to give up and are fighting back.

And, just days ago anti-fracking protester Simon Roscoe Blevins of Burngreave, and two other men were freed from prison after successfully challenging prison sentences imposed after they were convicted of causing a public nuisance outside a fracking site in Lancaster.

Fracking is a process to extract shale gas or shale oil, by using a mixture of water and chemicals which is blasted deep into the ground to release the gas.

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Critics claim it will damage the environment but Ineos has said it could help meet the UK's energy demands.

Over seventeen thousand square kilometres of England is covered by oil and gas exploration licences, which critics say could put large parts of the countryside, including countless areas enjoyed by climbers, walkers, mountain bikers and more at risk of industrialisation.

California-based brand Patagonia, noted for its environmental campaigning, joined Friends of the Earth in supporting Whittaker’s call for an end to fracking.

Friends of the Earth have created a petition to help communities fight against the process.