Fracking, the technique used to extract gas from shale formations by forcing pressurized water, sand, and chemicals into rock structures, has transformed the global energy balance. It’s been so successful in the US that it’s a made the world’s largest oil consumer much less dependent on imports.

But in the UK, where the industry is in its infancy, there’s another kind of balance at stake. Britain is a small, crowded island quite unlike the vast, empty expanses in the US where shale oil and gas fields are found. The British anti-fracking lobby is loud, arguing that the UK should not be pursuing expensive fracking technology that will only perpetuate its reliance on fossil fuels at a time when a push towards renewable energy is an increasingly viable alternative. In 2013, protestors clashed with police at a Cuadrilla site in the south of England.

The UK’s Conservative-led government has pushed hard to make fracking possible again, and consistently championed it in the face of opposition. (Lancashire council, for example, voted to oppose the practice but was over-ruled by Westminster.) But a groundswell is growing among locals who are saying, once again, that they don’t want fracking in, or under, their back yards.

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