Anti-fracking protestors dig in as Cuadrilla drilling equipment forced to turn away from Balcombe (From The Argus)
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Anti-fracking protestors dig in as Cuadrilla drilling equipment forced to turn away from Balcombe
Activists and residents declared it Balcombe 1 – Cuadrilla 0 after lorries were forced to turn away from a proposed drilling site yesterday.
Day one of the Great Gas Gala saw up to 250 environmental activists and residents of the mid-Sussex village block the roads to the site from 7am.
Lorries carrying pieces of the rig, being built to start exploratory drills on the land looking for oil and gas, were halted.
After stand-offs with protestors, and one lorry was damaged by having its break line cut, the vehicles were eventually forced to turn away.
Sussex Police said the cut line was quickly repaired with no interference from protesters, adding the demonstration was peaceful, with no arrests or injuries.
At 3pm extreme energy action network Frack Off, which fears the exploratory drill could pave the way for controversial fracking, said on Twitter: “It's gone! Massive community win. Will you be here tomorrow to stop them coming back?”
Fracking involves injecting fluid into rocks at high pressure to fracture them and release gas – but objectors fear the process could cause earthquakes and contaminate drinking water. No application has been made to frack at the site.
Seasoned activist Simon ‘Sitting Bull’ Medhurst said it was the strength of support from the local families which won the fight.
He said: “It was a complete result. I couldn’t have wished for a better day.
“It was really quite surreal. I thought it was going to kick off and the police were talking about making arrests. Then, coincidentally, lots of local people started to turn up and the police backed off.
“The police could see the local people were prepared to get arrested.
“There were lots of families with their children, it was a real party atmosphere and it turned out to be a beautiful day. I thought we were going to be rained on.
“This could give us the chance to take this to a new level of getting serious about blocking their activities.”
A Cuadrilla spokeswoman said: “The lorry was blocking the site entrance this morning has now been repaired, however protestors continue to block the site entrance, so the lorry cannot complete its delivery.
“The police are working with the protestors to move them away from the entrance so lorries can continue to safely deliver the equipment.
“Cuadrilla is disappointed the protestors continue to block the site but the main priority is the safety of all those on and near the site, including the protestors and road users. We plan to continue the approved activities as soon as reasonably possible.”
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