Green Party MP Caroline Lucas given fracking arrest court date

MP for Brighton Pavilion was arrested in August during protests outside the exploratory Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas will appear in court next week charged with offences she allegedly committed during anti-fracking protests.

The MP for Brighton Pavilion was arrested in August during protests outside the exploratory Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex.

She confirmed she was to be prosecuted after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was sufficient evidence to charge her and it was "in the public interest" to prosecute her "for breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway".

She will appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on October 16 charged with one count of breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway, police said. Both offences are alleged to have taken place on August 19.

Following the announcement by the CPS two weeks ago, Ms Lucas said: "I firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest and remain deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on climate change and the wider environment.

"I have been advised by my lawyer to make no further comment at this stage."

The MP was among at least 25 people who were arrested during a day of "direct action" by protesters outside the gates of the energy firm's drilling site in London Road, where hundreds demonstrated against fracking.

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.

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