Anti-fracking protestors have set up camp near the controversial exploratory shale gas drilling site in Balcombe, west Sussex.
The five day ‘Reclaim the Power’ action camp, led by campaign group No Dash for Gas and supported by a coalition of activist groups, was set up on Thursday night.
The protestors say they are there to support the local people who blockaded fracking firm Cuadrilla’s exploratory drilling site in a long protest that saw 10 people arrested in July.
The camp welcomes any guests, and a programme has been released featuring workshops and guest speakers. No Dash For Gas also says the protest will involve “mass, audacious and creative acts of civil disobedience”.
Ewa Jasiewicz of No Dash For Gas said, “We are excited to be here in Balcombe to stand in solidarity with the local community in opposing dirty fossil fuel extraction. The camp aims to be fully accessible and safe space where locals and guests alike will feel welcome! We will leave the site as we found it.
On Tuesday, BBC industry correspondent John Moylan reported that Cuadrilla had said it was “unlikely” that the site will be used for shale gas extraction in the future.
The company began drilling to investigate the potential of the site last month, despite the protest that meant drilling equipment had to be escorted on site by police while protesters were forcibly moved.
Protestor Luke Johnson, who is involved in the camp, said, “Cuadrilla’s announcement that they’ll halt drilling is already a victory for us, but it’s only a start. We would like to make sure they don’t frack in Balcombe, or anywhere else at all.”
Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs of West Sussex police was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday whether the police had advised Cuadrilla to suspend drilling. He said “This was a decision made by the company and we think its a sensible decision.”
In total, 14 people have pleaded not guilty to causing disruption during the Balcombe protests and have been granted unconditional bail at Crawley magistrates court.
Supporters from the Frack Off campaign group applauded from the public gallery as magistrate Michael Milne said all the defendants would be given unconditional bail. He said, “I do not believe the police have given us sufficient grounds that they will commit further offences if they return to Balcombe.”
In similar news, one of the six protestors who climbed the Shard in London last month has been charged with aggravated trespass.
Alison Garrigan, one of the activists who reached the summit of 1,000 ft building after a 15-hour climb in a protest against Arctic oil drilling, will appear at Camberwell magistrates court on August 29.
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