On Friday 2nd August 2013 Cuadrilla started test drilling in Balcombe, leafy Sussex, with a view to developing shale oil in the area. This process may in due course involve fracking and a proliferation of fracking pads and infrastructure across the country.
Frack Free Chew Valley were there to lend support to the Balcombe community and to exercise their right to peacefully protest against this misguided energy policy.
The protest camp outside the drilling site is comprised of Balcombe residents, other local residents from nearby villages, sympathetic support groups from other places at risk of fracking such as the ‘Desolate North’, Wales, Somerset, Fylde – all a broad spectrum of British society including children of all ages.
The friendly atmosphere changed when lorries carrying waste disposal equipment stopped 200m up the road to be joined by a large police escort on foot. This Juggernaut marched down the road and was met by chanting protesters and flag waving children. When the Juggernaut neared the site gate the crush of protesters between police lines lead to flared tempers, children separated from parents, arrests, shock and tears. The police ensured that the trucks entered the site, before marching back up to road followed by protesters chanting ‘Frack Free Sussex’.
Some might criticise police tactics or certain protesters but this avoids the real issue which is a deeply flawed energy policy being forced by poorly informed politicians (and their unelected advisors and lobbyists) onto increasingly dis-empowered communities. Balcombe is just the start, there are 2,300 other communities across England, Scotland and Wales which fall within the current petroleum exploration and development licenses and more licenses are due to be issued next year. We are grateful to the people of Balcombe (and those who are supporting them) for making a stand against this energy and environmental idiocy. Let’s keep fracking out of the Chew Valley and Somerset and implement secure, sustainable low-carbon solutions for the long-term future.