Brighton MP Caroline Lucas accused the Government of becoming a "flag-waver in chief" for the fracking industry as she left court today.

Ms Lucas also claimed the Government was refusing to listen to the evidence against fracking as she made a statement outside Crawley Magistrates' Court following a hearing where she entered not guilty pleas to offences allegedly committed during anti-fracking protests during the summer.

The Brighton Pavilion MP, who is charged with one count of breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway outside the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, on August 19, will stand trial with four others early next year, the court was told.

After her court appearance, the 52-year-old, from Brighton, said: "The campaign to reduce the threat of climate change is incredibly important to me.

"Fracking for shale gas seriously undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis, which in turn means our children, and theirs, will inherit a much more dangerous world."

Ms Lucas continued: "The Government is not only refusing to listen to the evidence, it is choosing to become a flag-waver in chief for the fracking industry, offering them generous tax breaks as well as allowing them senior roles within the Government itself.

"By joining the peaceful protest in Balcombe I wanted to join with others in actively opposing the exploitation of yet more fossil fuels."

She said her trial would take place early next year and that her constituents would be able to contact her as usual.

She added that she would continue to hold weekly surgeries, attend local meetings and to represent Brighton Pavilion in Parliamentary debates.

A handful of supporters, including former page three girl turned politician, Marina Baker, turned out to support the Green MP as she appeared in court and made her statement.

Ms Lucas had already told constituents through an open letter on her blog that she would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

She said there was "a proud tradition of non-violent direct action in this country".

She said: "In joining the peaceful protest I wanted to send a clear message to the Government, and to support the people at the proposed fracking site in Balcombe who were standing up to be counted."

She went on: "Thanks to everyone who's been in touch to offer their support, and I hope this open letter goes some way towards explaining why I believe in the importance of "speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly" - a phrase from Gandhi that continues to resonate today."

Opponents of fracking, in which water and chemicals are pumped into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas, fear it could harm water resources and cause small earthquakes, and development of the sites will cause noise and traffic.

Cuadrilla has since completed its exploratory oil drilling and left the site after more than two months of operations which involved the drilling of a vertical exploration well to a depth of 2,720ft, collecting 294ft of rock samples.

The energy firm also confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons, which can be used for fuel, and said it would apply for planning permission to carry out further testing to determine flow rates.

Sussex Police said the overall cost of the operation, which saw 125 people arrested in 65 days, is estimated at about GBP4 million.

Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has applied to the Home Office for financial support to meet the additional cost of policing what she has described as "a national issue".