Saturday 7th October saw over a hundred people from a variety of local climate action groups in Newcastle, Durham and Tyneside come together in protest against the UK government’s recent decision to develop the Rosebank oil field. Protestors in Newcastle marched from the city’s Civic Centre, down Northumberland Street to Eldon Square in defiance of plans to develop the oil field, before various group leaders and activists delivered speeches to protestors and passers-by.
Located off the west of the Scottish Shetland Islands, Rosebank is the UK’s biggest untapped oil field, estimated to contain around 300 million barrels of oil. The controversial site was given the go-ahead by regulators at the end of September, with development rights granted to Norwegian oil giant Equinor, a decision which has sparked widespread backlash across the country. October has seen large protests in many major cities from London to Edinburgh, with climate activists outraged and fearful that the plans will jeopardise the UK’s net zero targets and encourage long-term economic reliance on fossil fuel extraction.
The government has defended their decision to give drilling in the North Sea the go ahead, arguing that it will give the UK greater energy independence. Rishi Sunak described the approval of the offshore development as “the right long-term decision for the UK’s energy security”, yet opponents have scrutinised the claims, asserting that oil and gas produced by Rosebank will be sold at world market prices, and therefore neither improve energy affordability for UK consumers nor contribute to domestic energy security.
With labour leader Kier Starmer confirming the party will not revoke the approval of Rosebank if they are successful in next year’s elections, climate activists in Newcastle and across the country aim to organise numerous further protests in objection to the plans, with the hope of ultimately pushing the government to reverse its decision.
Local Byker business “Recyke y’bike” has received government funding to introduce a brand-new bike repair project to Newcastle. Recyke y’bike will be teaming up with local foodplaces to provide free repair cafes in an initiative that hopes to promote cycling as a safe and accessible alternative transport option for all residents in the city and to push for decarbonisation of transport across the North East.
Bike repair cafes will be held on the first Tuesday morning of every month staring on 7th November at Heaton Perk Coffee Shop in Heaton and are open to any cyclists in the city in need of basic repairs, including student bikers.
This autumn, the North East Climate Coalition has organised a number of free film screenings across the city, in an attempt to engage and educate people in Newcastle on the climate crisis and encourage discussions and solution-making on a community level.
The independent films and documentaries focus on breaking down the global impacts of fossil fuel extraction and are being shown at various local venues across the city, including community-run cinema Star and Shadow.
Films have included Everything Must Change, a film by Reel News which investigates the deeply interconnected nature of multiple modern-day crises, from the cost of living crisis or the housing crisis to the climate crisis, and looks at the work and ideas of various social movements across the globe to achieve effective, interlinked solutions to the issues.
The next screening hosted by the North East Climate Coalition, Offshore, is an independent documentary that will consider varying perspectives and experiences from those working in offshore oil and gas as well as renewable energy in the UK together with the challenges and opportunities created by the coming energy transition for workers and coastal communities around the North Sea.
The documentary will be screened on Friday 17th November at Earthlings Café at 7:30pm.