Green MP Caroline Lucas arrested as anti-fracking protests reach fever pitch

First day of ‘mass civil disobedience’ sees shows of dissent at Balcombe and related sites

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas was arrested yesterday for her part in one of a series of anti-fracking protests which took place across the country. She was among several people arrested outside the gates of the energy firm Cuadrilla’s drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex.

The day of action saw separate protests at the firm’s offices in Lichfield, Staffordshire; the offices of the PR firm Bell Pottinger, who represent Cuadrilla; the constituency office of the Paymaster General, Francis Maude, whose Horsham constituency includes Balcombe; and the home of George Osborne’s father-in-law Lord Howell, a former energy minister.

It was the first of two days of “mass civil disobedience” that campaigners have said they will carry out to protest at the used of the controversial method of shale gas extraction known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.

Police said around 25 protesters had been arrested in Balcombe by approximately 3.30pm. They began after a senior officer announced over a megaphone that the activists were obstructing a nearby industrial estate and must move to a designated area.

As she was led away, Ms Lucas said: “Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come.

“People today, myself included, took peaceful, non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us.”

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at the Balcombe site, bringing traffic to a halt and causing a half mile tailbacks before police closed the road. Four people lay down on the ground in front of the entrance, handcuffed together, as police officers blocked the way between the gates to the site and the growing crowd.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs of Sussex Police said: “As we have said from the very start of this protest operation, we are more than happy to facilitate peaceful protest, but those who are intent on criminal action will be arrested.”

Sussex Police said more than 400 officers had been deployed on the operation at Balcombe, with support from 10 other UK forces.

In High Holborn in London, the campaign group No Dash For Gas said six protesters superglued themselves to the glass doors of Bell Pottinger at 8am and deployed reinforced arm tubes to stop anyone else getting inside, while another climbed the building and unfurled a banner bearing the words: “Bell Pottinger – fracking liars.”

Cuadrilla said in a statement: “Protesters broke into our Lichfield office, harassed our staff and chained themselves to filing cabinets. The police are on site dealing with this. We condemn all illegal direct actions against our people and operations.”

About 20 protesters also gathered outside Francis Maude’s constituency office, with a spokeswoman for the group saying it was because “he refuses to listen to the concerns of the local people and stand up for their right not have their country destroyed by fracking.”

Lord Howell’s home was targeted because of the furore he caused by suggesting that drilling should go ahead in the North-east because of its “large and uninhabited and desolate areas.” Campaigners erected an estate-agent style “For Shale” sign outside and unveiled a banner which read: “Not in your back yard, Lord Howell? Frack off!”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?