More than 400 protesters have attended an anti-fracking rally in Balcombe attended by a key campaigner from France, according to organisers.

The gathering, attended by French MEP Jose Bove, was held at the scene of last yeaar's bitter protests when energy firm Cuadrilla carried out test drilling at the site.

He attended a meeting of about 60 grassroots campaigners from across England before he spoke at a public rally.


The speeches were followed by a brief occupation of the drilling pad led by Mr Bove.

A spokesman for the organisers said that the event had a "very good-spirited, peaceful but determined atmosphere".

Mr Bove said that because France already had a fracking ban, it was the responsibility of the French to support the UK opposition to the drilling technique.

He said: "This has to be bigger and bigger. A real movement at national level with all different kinds of people to be able to change the decisions at the national level.

"When politicians will be afraid to lose their place in parliament they are going to change the way they think.

"You have to say to all candidates 'are you for or against fracking?' "

He continued: "Next we're not only going to gather here in Balcombe but the next big mobilisation with thousands and thousands of people, we're not going to do it in the countryside in Sussex but we're going to do it in Downing Street.

"This is a message also for Mr Cameron. Mr Cameron has to stop his support for these companies. This is a social fight but also a fight against all those people who support those companies.

"You are right to fight and you have to win this fight not only for you but for the new generation."

German MEP for Alliance '90/The Greens Rebecca Harms said: "You must be strong and smart. With non-violent direct action you must show what you are concerned about and how strong your concerns are."