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Liveblog: Balcombe anti-fracking protest eviction
This live event has finished
- Anti-fracking demonstrators have until 9am to leave the site of their roadside protest in Balcombe or face eviction.
- Protesters have been rallying support and urging people to travel to the site today to show they will not be moved.
- Police have issued a Section 14 order to confine any protests today to one site opposite the site entrance
- Three arrests have been made so far
One of the arrests today was of the first Balcombe resident to feel the long arm of the law at this protest.
PA reports that poet Simon Welsh was arrested outside the gates of the Cuadrilla site in the Sussex village shortly after leading singing of the anti-fracking Balcombe Anthem, according to the No Fracking in Balcombe Society (No Fibs).
A No Fibs spokeswoman said he was arrested at the same spot where former Green Party leader and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas was arrested last month.
"He was arrested shortly after leading the singing of The Balcombe Anthem, to Parry's rousing tune Jerusalem," she said.
"Simon had adapted William Blake's words to express the current threat of industrialisation of our countryside through fracking."
Sussex Police said a 34-year-old man from Balcombe was arrested on suspicion of breaching a Section 14 Public Order Act notice and was in custody this afternoon.
The force said a number of protesters were arrested outside the Cuadrilla drilling site today, including two who tried to block a lorry arriving at the site.
West Sussex County Council has just released the following statement:
West Sussex County Council today (Tuesday) confirmed that it has now instructed its agents to seek an order for possession which will lead to people, roadside tents, canopies and caravans being removed on the B2036 London Road, Balcombe, in an area close to the site where energy company Cuadrilla is completing exploratory drilling work.
The council, as the Highways Authority, is taking the action over increased concerns for the safety of all road users.
Notices were served yesterday (Monday) requiring protestors to vacate the land by 9am this morning but, because this did not take place, the council has now instructed its agents to take court proceedings.
The council will apply for an early hearing because of its safety concerns.
“We would re-emphasise the statement we issued yesterday that this action is being taken on safety grounds to protect all road users.
“We would hope that people will still leave of their own accord, and, again we would encourage protestors to use the defined area where peaceful protest will be facilitated.
“This has been set-up to strike a balance between the safety of road users and the democratic right of people to protest lawfully.”
Update: Sussex Police say the road has now reopened:
"The road was re-opened shortly before 3pm. The man released from the D-lock/ A man has been arrested."
Sussex Police statement on the caravan blocking the road:
The B2036 London Road at Balcombe has been closed after protesters pulled a caravan across the carriageway, blocking it in both directions.
As the caravan was pulled into position around 1.45pm on Tuesday (September 10), a man D-locked himself to the vehicle delaying its removal.
Superintendent Jane Derrick said: "A specialist protest removal team is attending to release the man and the caravan will be moved as soon as we are able to safely do so. While we are working as quickly as possible to re-open the road, people planning to use the route, including those picking up children from school, should consider alternatives where possible."
A number of protesters have been arrested outside the Cuadrilla drilling site today, including two who tried to prevent the movement of a lorry arriving at the location.
More live feeds:
BREAKING - Man has locked himself to a caravan blocking the road in #Balcombe via @youandifilms #28dayslater http://t.co/wmZAx1AIKS— @28_DaysLater 10 September 2013
There's now another live feed from Balcombe:
#Fracking truck in #Balcombe with police escort helping Cuadrilla threaten Sussex http://t.co/pjkJkmFi7V http://t.co/xQE9GwecAg— @Frack_Off 10 September 2013
Not strictly newsworthy, but Liz Finlayson has taken this great picture of one of the policemen's fine set of chops:
Tanker moving at slow walking pace at #Balcombe anti #Fracking camp lady at front in wheelchair helping to slow http://t.co/SF2WTnXPnf— @SussexSimon 10 September 2013
Tanker enters test drill site at #Balcombe despite anti #fracking protesters, some scuffles with police http://t.co/EunKBrNU4V— @SussexSimon 10 September 2013
RT @WeWuntBeDruv1: #Balcombe resident arrested for singing as they try to stop #fracking in their community.Get down 2 #greatgasgala today …— @Frack_Off 10 September 2013
Henry Bodkin, who is on a work placement with us, has taken these pictures:
Some more pictures from Liz Finlayson, who says the protesters are now kettled in the road opposite the site entrance:
From Argus reporter Gareth Davies at the scene: Police have started arresting people, we believe for breaching the new Section 14 Order. Three people have now been arrested.
It appears that West Sussex County Council are indeed going to have to go to the High Court to evict the protesters, as they are not moving.
RT @Pinsie: Livestreamers, photographers & Legal Observers URGENTLY needed at #Balcombe protection camp RH17 6JH NOW Live http://t.co/xxlmp…— @judidiamond69 10 September 2013
#balcombe getting very lively. Lots of cops please come and support and fight the frackheads.— @SchNEWS 10 September 2013
And here it is embedded:
The Balcombe Community Protection Camp has issued a press release.
It says: "Please find below an update from the Balcombe blockade of the Cuadrilla drilling and fracking site. The update is provided in the context of a letter from one Tony Kershaw of West Sussex County Council’s legal department. The blockaders are consulting their own legal advisers about how to respond to it. The validity of the letter is questionable.
"From the viewpoint of the blockaders the last six weeks have been a great success with national and international coverage of the danger fracking poses to the environment and human health. The invasion of the British countryside has been strongly resisted and will continue to be resisted until the last fracker runs out of gullible investors. Landowners are discovering the hidden liabilities they will have to bear when the inevitable accidents, contamination and injury bring massive claims for damages. Best of all communities are learning how to defend themselves and combine with other communities in strength and unity.
"An amazing feature of the fight against fracking is the range of people, political and social positions that have drawn together to face the unwelcome gas and oil invaders. The blockaders have conducted themselves peacefully throughout this first blockade of a UK based fracker. The safety and sanctity of human life is at the heart of the purpose of the blockade.
"It is a shame that a lower speed limit has not yet been imposed in the area of the entrance to the Cuadrilla drilling site and the blockaders and their many supporters in the wider community urge those responsible to immediately establish a safe speed limit of 20 or 30 miles per hour on the relevant stretch of the B2036 south of Balcombe. Failure to heed this request for a lower speed limit will lead even more people to question the good faith of their elected representatives and institutions.
"The Balcombe blockaders urge West Sussex County Council to take urgent steps to preserve its democratic role in the community."
This tweet is not from someone at the site, but who is following protesters on Twitter:
Anyone tweeting live from balcombe? Whats happening? last I saw was a live feed going private for legal observer due to a suspected kettle?— @veralothian 10 September 2013
It appears they are kettling balcombe protesters? Occupymayday went private as legal observer so we've… http://t.co/YSqIYuob94— @veralothian 10 September 2013
She says it's fairly quiet, the road is still open and there are not too many police present other than at the entrance.
Here's a couple of pictures from our photographer Liz Finlayson from the roadside today:
However, despite the call for support, it appears that the trains to Balcombe are currently quite quiet:
@BrightonArgusJo My London train just stopped at Balcombe, no obvious sign of activity, no obvious police presence on station platform— @michellepauli 10 September 2013
The right to protest http://t.co/dH2e19taBj #fracking #balcombe @Frack_Off @chunkymark @AuntieBrainwash @frackoff_ http://t.co/XBrZQHQQAM— @Shellspeare 10 September 2013
However, at least one Balcombe resident is welcoming the upcoming eviction:
@judidiamond69 democracy ? where was my say when you people started blocking the roads ? #balcombe— @robsonjb1 10 September 2013
#Balcombe #fracking protesters due to be evicted today by Tory-run #EastSussexCountyCouncil. Please come down to the camp and support.— @BunchieFox 10 September 2013
Police have issued a S.14 over #Balcombe community camp effective from 9am today. Support is needed... http://t.co/8os45tKyT5— @nodashforgas 10 September 2013
Sussex Police has this morning announced it will be directing protesters to a specified assembly area on the western verge opposite the entrance of the site from today.
In a statement, it says it has issued an order under the Public Order Act because "it is reasonably believed that the public assembly may result in 'serious disruption to the life of the community' or 'the purpose of persons organising it is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do or to do an act they have a right not to do'."
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison said: "This will allow a significant number of people to assemble in close proximity to the site to carry out their protest, but without causing obstruction to the road. We will review its use on a daily basis.
"Since protesters started to gather at the end of July we have facilitated peaceful protest and will continue to do so. However, over the last week we have seen a rise in the amount of unlawful activities and this has caused increasing disruption to the local community and to those trying to carry out their lawful business.
"This is unacceptable and we have reluctantly had to take this course of action. Anyone who chooses to ignore the direction faces arrest.
"We would urge anyone intending to organise any form of protest at the site at any time to make contact with us."
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Good morning, and welcome to the Argus liveblog on what appears to be the beginning of the end for the Balcombe anti-fracking protest.
Yesterday, West Sussex County Council said it will remove people, roadside tents, canopies and caravans on the B2036 London Road near to the site where energy company Cuadrilla is completing exploratory drilling work for oil, over increased concerns for the safety of all road users.
Notices were served yesterday, and if the land is not vacated within 24 hours, it will be followed up with court action to seek possession of council-owned verges and an injunction preventing people from returning, a council spokesman said.
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