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Plea to activists heading to Balcombe anti-fracking protest
Hardcore activists have been warned to stay away from an anti-fracking protest due to concerns of clashes with police.
Hundreds of protesters from campaign group No Dash for Gas are expected to swoop on Balcombe tomorrow for a six-day camp dubbed Reclaim the Power, with plans for “direct action” on Monday.
Protesters have been camped outside the site near Balcombe since energy company Cuadrilla began drilling an exploration well last month.
Fracking involves high pressure liquid being pumped deep underground to split shale rock and release gas supplies, which opponents argue could potentially cause water contamination, small-scale earthquakes and environmental damage.
Alison Stevenson, chairman of Balcombe Parish Council, wrote an open letter to No Dash for Gas activists warning those intending to break the law should stay away.
She said villagers had voted in opposition to any future fracking and supported peaceful demonstrations, but they had fears about the planned Reclaim the Power camp.
She continued by stating Balcombe strongly opposed any actions which may involve civil trespass or illegal acts.
“If the No Dash for Gas group is coming here in the full knowledge it intends to break the law then it should stay away, ” she added.
“It is not wanted in Balcombe. It is duly uninvited.”
More than 850 people have indicated on the No Dash for Gas Facebook page they intend to join the camps.
Kyle Winters, 23, a protester from Surrey, said the protesters were very much concentrating on peaceful demonstrations.
He added: “The question is not how will the dynamic change with more protesters but how will the police react to more people. We have already seen numbers increase significantly, impeding our protest.
“Police shouldn’t be judging people on what they might do – it is suffocating people who are taking part in a peaceful protest.”
Cuadrilla announced yesterday it would be unlikely to turn Balcombe into a fossil fuel production site, claiming there were likely to be more suitable sites elsewhere.
One Balcombe resident, who did not want to be named, said: “What are they going through all this for then? This is stupid really because it is disrupting a beautiful place of outstanding natural beauty.”
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