Hundreds converge on Balcombe as fracking protests continue

Protesters have vowed to continue after Caudrilla announces plans to scale back their operation

Hundreds of demonstrators have arrived at an anti-fracking protest camp in West Sussex on Saturday, swelling numbers on the second day of a proposed six day protest.

Police and the protest organisers No Dash for Gas anticipate up to 1,000 activists joining the anti-fracking demonstrations at the Balcombe camp as it emerged earlier today that the cost of policing the operation has risen to nearly £750,000.

Demonstrators will join the six-day Reclaim the Power Camp on the outskirts of the West Sussex countryside, which has become the epicentre of fracking protests since energy firm Cuadrilla prepared to drill for oil at the site.

Groups of protesters are due to march south from Balcombe to the Cuadrilla site on Sunday afternoon.

Sussex police are bolstering their number with officers from ten other forces from around the country.

A 23-year-old man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of a public order offence, after threats were made to a local landowner who asked a group camped on land close to the drilling site to leave. This brings to 46 the total number held since the protests sprang up in the area three weeks ago.

Anti-fracking campaigners were bolstered by a well publicised visit from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood on Friday, who expressed her solidarity with protesters. Ms Westwood told the crowd: "I'm anti-fracking and I'm here to protest. There has been no debate. They are trying to rush this thing through, for what?"

"I'm sure it's bad and the only people who are going to benefit from it is this energy company….They all have vested interests. It's a kind of club….Who do they [the government] think they are when I would say most of the country is really against fracking, particularly at this point in time, when we don't know what's at stake," she said.

Campaigners argue test drilling by Caudrilla could lead to hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, but the company has said it is unlikely to turn the site into a fossil fuel production area.

The controversial method of fracking involves high pressure liquid being pumped deep underground to split shale rock and release gas supplies.

Opponents of fracking have highlighted concerns about potential water contamination and environmental damage, as well as small-scale earthquakes.

Caudrilla has now scaled back its operation on the advice of Sussex Police amid fears of unrest after police revealed the protests, which began last month, have so far cost taxpayers three quarters of a million. Officers from 10 other forces have been drafted in to assist.

Some Balcombe residents have expressed anger towards the disruptions created by the protesters, arguing they are not representative of the community.

But Ewa Jasiewicz, of anti-fracking group No Dash for Gas, said: “We are hoping to mobilise the massive public opinion that is opposed to fracking and to fossil fuel and is looking for cheap, sustainable, clean energy.

“It's in all of our interests to have that and it's possible to achieve this. The obstacles to this are political and not technical.

“Fracking our earth and industrialising our countryside is not the answer. In fact it's going to exacerbate climate change and it's going to crash our carbon reduction targets.”

She said activists have a “working relationship” with the farmer who owns the land on which the camp was being set up.

But Richard Ponsford, who owns Sidney Farm where the camp is, said the activists came on his land without his permission.

Mr Ponsford, 59, said: “About three or four vans came on to the field and they spent about three hours barricading the field in.

“I certainly did not give my permission. There is no way I would have allowed them in at all.”

Balcombe has been thrust into the spotlight as the debate surrounding fracking has intensified, with disputed claims that it could cause environmental harm and bring down energy bills.

David Cameron has insisted the whole country should accept fracking, claiming it will attract “real public support” when the benefits, such as potentially cutting energy bills, are explained.

The Prime Minister also claimed a thriving shale-gas industry could create tens of thousands of jobs.

He sought to play down fears about the environmental dangers posed by fracking, claiming there was “no evidence” that it would cause contamination of water supplies or other damage if properly regulated.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “Cuadrilla's exploration work at Balcombe involves drilling a conventional oil well.

“External groups protesting against hydraulic fracturing at Balcombe do so without any work proposal from Cuadrilla to judge.

 

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone