A war of words has erupted in a once-peaceful village now drenched in controversy over a drilling site.

The residents of Balcombe have entered into battle because of energy company Cuadrilla's exploratory drilling and the protesters who have lined either side of the B2036 London Road since the end of July.

After The Argus published a letter sent yesterday in support of the energy firm, the anti-fracking community of the village have hit back, branding it “woefully misdirected angst”.

Balcombe resident Louisa Delpy said: "There are over 1,000 residents in Balcombe.

“The 60 signatures represent a small minority.

“I respect their opinion and welcome their voice to the debate.

“The number of people who have signed is consistent with number who said they were pro-fracking in the previous parish council and NoFiBS surveys.

“This reinforces the fact that while some individuals are supportive of the drilling, the majority of the community are against it.”

According to protesters, No Fracking in Balcombe Society (NoFibs) carried out a poll in the village which returned results of more than 80% opposed to drilling.

Vanessa Vine from Frack Free Sussex, and who lives four miles from Balcombe, said: “If the tiny minority of 60 anonymous Balcombe residents who've issued this astonishingly naive pro-fracking statement had taken the trouble to look at the true relentless propaganda on this issue - or to investigate the enormity of the risks posed both to their Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty and their personal health by unconventional fossil fuel exploitation - they might be less aerated about "grass verges" and "unsightly banners”.

“How many of these people are employees/tenants of the Balcombe Estate or otherwise connected with industry? “The risible Balcombe 60 would instead do well to join altruistic protectors in warning other villages of the potential suffering they are destined for if they do not oppose this ecocidal industry in favour of energy efficiency and safe alternatives.

“One wonders why they don't put their woefully misdirected angst into setting up Community Renewable Energy Schemes, but perhaps that does not chime with their anonymous hidden agendas.”

The letter printed in yesterday's Argus was sent alongside 60 names and addresses of residents who “strongly disapproved of the recent and ongoing protests”.

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