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More than 100 now arrested at Balcombe
12:05pm Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
The number of anti-fracking protesters arrested in Balcombe has topped 100 since demonstrations started in July.
Six people were arrested yesterday as demonstrations against exploratory drilling by energy firm Cuadrilla continued, Sussex Police said.
They are believed to have included the first local resident to be detained, with anti-drilling group the No Fracking in Balcombe Society (No Fibs) claiming poet Simon Welsh was one of the six arrested.
A 26-year-old man was also arrested after locking himself to a caravan that was used to block a road through Balcombe for around 75 minutes.
Anti-fracking protesters were given 24 hours to move from the roadside where they have been camped for the past two months after police invoked a Section 14 Public Order Act notice.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison said: "We have provided an area where protesters can clearly see and be seen to be carrying out their legitimate right to peaceful protest opposite the entrance to the drilling site.
"While they do this we are quite happy to facilitate their protest, but the criminal activities of some are having a significant impact on the local community and this is not acceptable.
"We have again seen a number of arrests, bringing the total to more than 100 since the protest began in July.
"Ours is a very simple message: exercise your legitimate right to lawful protest, but please refrain from activities that are going to bring you to the attention of police.
"If you choose to break the law, then you face arrest and it is up to you to consider the consequences of that."
Protesters were told that they would be confined to a specified assembly area under the newly imposed Section 14 order following continued disruption.
Sussex Police said assembly would be confined to a clearly delineated area on the western side of the verge opposite the entrance to the Cuadrilla site, starting approximately 10 metres north of the police control van and continuing along the verge for about 30 metres.
West Sussex County Council confirmed it will remove people, tents, canopies and caravans from the road, near to the site where energy company Cuadrilla is completing exploratory drilling work for oil, over increased concerns for the safety of road users.
Last week, Cuadrilla announced it had withdrawn an application for an extension to its planning permission for exploratory drilling at Balcombe.
The company said a new planning application for the site will be lodged in the near future, but it will not go before the council before next year.
No Fibs said Mr Welsh was arrested outside the gates of the Cuadrilla site shortly after leading singing of the anti-fracking Balcombe Anthem, A group spokeswoman said he was detained 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 and a 29-year-old man from Leicestershire were arrested on suspicion of breaching a Section 14 Public Order Act notice and were in custody.
A 26-year-old man who locked himself to the caravan was released by specialist protest removal officers, a police spokesman said.
He was arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway and an offence under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.
Additionally, a 24-year-old man from Southampton and a 45-year-old man from Brighton were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act. The man from Brighton was also arrested for obstructing police, the force said.
A 46-year-old man who gave no address was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer as he tried to help a lorry enter the Cuadrilla site.
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