Protests are continuing today at the site of an exploratory drilling operation.

Two women have been arrested this morning - one for assaulting a police officer  nd the other for trying to stop drivers and other workers from accessing the site under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act.

It follows 16 arrests at the Cuadrilla site in London Road, Balcombe yesterday.

Twelve people, including two teenage boys,  have been charged and will appear before magistrates next month.

Although there is currently no licence to frack – a process which injects pressurised fluid into the ground and crack rocks to release natural gas – campaigners fear the tests for oil and gas could pave the way for the controversial practice.

The village has become a focal point for campaigners, who have highlighted fears linked to fracking, including the use of chemicals.

Cuadrilla said in a statement: “Cuadrilla has followed all legal and regulatory procedures concerning its exploratory drilling plans and obtained the necessary approvals from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and West Sussex County Council.”

Cuadrilla has said it intends only to conduct exploratory drilling in a temporary operation which will not include hydraulic fracturing.

Superintendent Steve Whitton said this morning: "I have officers at the site to ensure people can demonstrate peacefully and help facilitate the rights of those to go about their lawful business - this means allowing workers to access the site.

“We are trying to carefully balance the needs of everyone and we will continue to show a proportionate response to the challenge we are facing.

“Our aim at Balcombe is to provide a safe and secure environment for protesters, residents and the contractors alike, to minimise disproportionate disruption to the local community and to prevent crime and disorder.

“Protestors are being asked to clear entrances to allow access to the site and where they have refused following repeated requests we have arrested them.”