Anti-fracking campaigners in Sussex who were blocking the entrance to a proposed shale gas exploration site have been forcibly moved by police.
At least 10 protesters have been arrested as police escorted tankers and lorries carrying drilling equipment into the site.
Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the south-east, said, “The people arrested today deserve gratitude, not penalties. They are the current day defenders of the land. Government should be supporting the people, not using bully boy tactics to get their way.”
On Thursday, protesters obstructed the entrance to the site in Balcombe, West Sussex, and after a seven-hour stand-off, a lorry carrying drilling equipment was forced to turn around.
A number of people remained at the site overnight, but when more protesters arrived this morning they were joined by large numbers of police.
Fracking firm Cuadrilla is due to begin “exploratory drilling” near Balcombe on Saturday. It is investigating the site to see whether it will need to be fracked in order to exploit the minerals there.
Emma Cook, from anti-fracking campaign group Frack Off, told Blue & Green Tomorrow that she expects similar protests to take place across the country.
“This community have done everything that they thought they should do. They’ve written to their MP, they’ve lobbied their council, they’ve written to the environment agency. And yet, this week the environment agency granted a mining permit to Cuadrilla irrespective of the fact that they have received thousands of letters of objection”, she said.
“People can see this is not democratic in any way, shape or form. This is the only option that the people of Balcombe have now, to put their bodies in the way.
“Communities from across the country will see what’s happening at Balcombe and we hope this will inspire people everywhere to feel they have the right to stand up for clean air and water.”
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth south-east regional campaigner Brenda Pollack, said the protest “shows the scale of concern about the lack of information on the environmental impacts of this project.”
The chancellor George Osborne has been unerring in his support of fracking, however. Last week he announced a series of tax breaks for the fracking industry, in order to make Britain the “leader of the shale gas revolution.”
He said, “Shale gas is a resource with huge potential to broaden the UK’s energy mix. We want to create the right conditions for industry to explore and unlock that potential in a way that allows communities to share in the benefits.”