Sussex Police Arrest Balcombe Oil Drill Protesters

26 Jul

from BBC News balcombe

England—Up to 10 arrests were made and the main gate has been cleared at the site near Balcombe, West Sussex.

Cuadrilla has been given permission to drill a 3,000ft (914m) well and 2,500ft (762m) horizontal bore.

Campaigners fear the firm could also carry out hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Cuadrilla said any further activity would need fresh permission.

About 75 police officers were involved in the operation to make arrests on Friday, BBC reporter Mark Sanders said.

The blockade started on Thursday with about 100 protesters at the site.

Protester Natalie Hynde said about 25 people formed a chain through the night.

Ms Hynde said the protesters, who were mainly from outside the village, had received “overwhelming support” from local people.

She said 82% of local people opposed the test drilling.

‘Very British’

She alleged any fracking that went ahead in the area would affect future generations because it would pollute the water table.

Asked if the protesters were using scare tactics to shock local people, she said: “I think people need to be shocked.”

Earlier on Friday, BBC Sussex reporter Simon Jenkins said the protest appeared to be a “very British stand-off” and the site felt like a little village.

Cuadrilla obtained a waste permit from the Environment Agency on Tuesday – the final regulatory approval it needed to carry out work to the south of Balcombe.

A spokesman for the firm said on Thursday: “Cuadrilla’s forthcoming activity at Balcombe is for exploratory drilling only and is a temporary operation that will not include hydraulic fracturing.

Should Cuadrilla wish to undertake further activity, they would need to apply for new permissions and licences from the relevant regulatory authorities.”

He said Cuadrilla had held information sessions and written to the local community, and had contacted all local councils.

On Thursday, protesters blocked a lorry trying to enter the site.

The vehicle had its brake lines cut during the demonstration, Sussex Police said.

Officers said the truck was quickly repaired without “interference from any demonstrators”.

West Sussex County Council granted Cuadrilla planning permission to undertake exploration work in 2010.

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