We thank those who have come from outside the village to help defend our countryside, our air and water quality, and our right to a peaceful existence on tanker-free country roads.
Press release from No Fracking in Balcombe Society, Friday July 26th, 2013, 5pm
14 people have been arrested this afternoon at oil and gas driller Cuadrilla’s site half a mile south of the village of Balcombe in Sussex. Police used force to arrest the protesters under trades union picketing laws. Those arrested were peacefully sitting in front of the gate to the site in order to prevent the drill rig and other equipment entering. They were amongst scores of protesters from Balcombe and surrounding towns and villages.
NoFiBS is deeply disappointed in the police role in facilitating the drilling for Cuadrilla when they have an obligation to facilitate protest. NoFiBS intend to continue to protest legally and peacefully on the verges by the site gate. Cuadrilla’s vehicles have since begun to enter the site, to chants of ‘Ouze Valley OUR valley’ and ‘Go home Cuadrilla’.
Cuadrilla may not now be on schedule to begin drilling as planned tomorrow, Saturday. They make much of their quibble that they will not frack at this exploratory stage. For PR purposes and to facilitate permits, Cuadrilla will take the water pressure to just below rock-fracturing level. The exploratory stage has its own nuisances and dangers, and is a precurser of actual oil production, which will certainly involve fracking. So Cuadrilla, please stop telling us to ‘calm down dears because we are not going to frack just now’.
We call upon the government to change its policy on on-shore oil and gas exploration. This is not just a Balcombe issue – licences for the underbelly of two-thirds of the UK have been sold by the government to oil and gas companies. Citizens across the UK should wake up and take note that oil rigs and frack sites are coming to a field near them.
This week, Cuadrilla were given the government go-ahead to drill in Balcombe only three working days after the public consultation had ended. The Environment agency had received nearly 900 submissions from the public in Balcombe and beyond, many arriving close to their deadline. It is hard to believe that the Environment Agency properly considered the public’s views. What confidence can we have that government agencies will be willing or able regulate and police this industry, and protect our wellbeing and quality of life?
We thank those who have come from outside the village to help defend our countryside, our air and water quality, and our right to a peaceful existence on tanker-free country roads. We stand united with friends similarly besieged elsewhere in the country, especially in the North West, on that other front line of the fracking war. We in Balcombe feel bullied. Bullied by the oil and gas industry. Bullied by our government. We stand strong in the fight against this dangerous and misguided government policy.