In May 2018, the government proposed a way for fracking companies to gain fast-tracked approval for their plans. By November 2019, after the mobilisation of a campaign led by CPRE, those proposals were dropped.
The charity’s Don’t Fast Track Fracking campaign argued that the proposals weren’t just bad for the environment, they threatened local democracy too. The changes would allow companies to rush through planning permissions in a rush to exploit natural resources, CPRE said, as it worked with local communities, experts and other charities to challenge the reforms.
Working across its existing networks, CPRE set three aims: to target backbench MPs already opposed to the proposals; to attract new audiences to the cause, building a larger coalition to demonstrate the depth of public feeling against the plans; and to create a coalition within the charity sector.
Led by CPRE, the coalition raised a petition against the plans, gave evidence to parliament, commissioned public polling on the issue, and established itself as a crucial voice to reporters.
By the time the new prime minister Boris Johnson announced a moratorium on the plans in late 2019, MPs in Westminster had received more than 6,000 letters outlining their constituents’ opposition to the fast-track proposals and the issue had gained traction in parliament and the national media.
CPRE attributed the success to a number of factors, including simple, consistent messaging: that democracy was being undermined by the proposals being forced through by the government, and the charity was making a stand against it.
Charity Awards judge Ruth Davison said she liked the fact that CPRE, a very mainstream, traditional charity had used campaigning and advocacy to achieve change – particularly in light of recent efforts by the government to clamp down on protests and campaigns.
“It was just a great example of classic campaigning: locally-led, very co-ordinated, and used all sorts of different campaigning and advocacy techniques such as press, private advocacy, polling, letters to councils, petitions and so on,” she said.
Chris Sherwood added that the challenge of coordinating such activity in a federated charity structure should not be underestimated: “Campaigns are more controversial in a federated structure, as there are a lot of stakeholders to manage and bring along.”
CC Reg no. 1089685