Anti-frack support grows at Balcombe
Photo report by Peter Arkell
Hundreds of fresh protestors joined the anti-fracking camps at Balcombe in East Sussex over the week-end, as the company drilling for oil and gas at the site, Cuadrilla, strengthened the defences round their site and put up razor wire all round it.
The police, who have been advising Cuadrilla, have also strengthened their presence in readiness for any direct action that may break out. The company announced on Friday that they will suspend drilling operations for 6 days on the advice of the police.
The camp at the site is at full capacity with tents lining both sides of the road that leads to the drilling operation in the woods about a mile outside the village. At the No Dash for Gas/ Reclaim the Power camp a mile further on in a field, people have been arriving throughout the week-end, setting up their tents and joining in the festival atmosphere that prevails at present, with a welcome tent, workshops, a legal tent, children's activities, concensus decision-making and a kitchen on site.
The Reclaim the Power camp was to be held at the West Burton power station in Notts, where last year it led to a shutdown of the station and the arrest of 21 people. Organisers switched the location at the last moment to Balcombe in view of the drilling operation started recently by Cuadrilla for oil and gas.
Ewa Jasiewicz of 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 its 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."
We want to put the power back into the hands of ordinary people who want democratically-controlled energy and much more democracy in the UK as a whole. The whole government dash for gas does not have a democratic mandate from the people...”
Representatives of both camps are hoping for a turn-out of well over a thousand for a march on Sunday. On Friday people visiting the site who arrived by train were filmed by police as they left the station, and there were several police units round the site photographing and filming the protestors.
Also on Friday Vivienne Westwood visited the camp. She pledged support for the protest, accusing the government of encouraging fracking without any debate or consultation. And the RSPB, one of the largest conservation charities has filed an objection to the local councils of two fracking sites.
17 August 2013