The battle of Balcombe: Resistance to fracking in Sussex
Protesters have continued a blockade in Balcombe, Sussex, where fracking company Cuadrilla has permission to carry out exploratory drilling until September.
On the first day of the protest, Thursday 25th July, over 250 people stopped 15 trucks bringing equipment on to the site. On the second day more than 100 police were used to break the blockade and escort trucks on. The community continued to resist on the third day and by the fourth day Cuadrilla gave up on attempts to bring any trucks onto the site. Complaints have been made about heavy handed policing, and officers have been filmed using pain inducing techniques to force protesters from the road. So far 25 people have been arrested and 12 charged. Despite the large police presence, protesters say the camp is still going strong and are inviting people to come and join the resistance.
Hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’, involves injecting a mixture of high-pressure water and chemicals into a borehole, fracturing the rock and releasing gas. It has been linked with poisoned water supplies, leaking gas and radioactive contamination. The technique has been met with strong opposition in the United States, where it has been widely used, and across the world with concerns about its environmental impacts mobilising local communities against it. France, Bulgaria, 5 Irish Counties and some American and Australian States have already declared moratoria on hydraulic fracturing.
In 2011 two small earthquakes near a fracking site in Lancashire resulted in a temporary moratorium on exploratory fracking in the UK. This was lifted in December 2012, despite the earthquakes being confirmed as being due to fracking activity, and evidence that the well casing had been damaged in the process, which can result in gas or fracking fluids leaking into the local environment. Cuadrilla, who were carrying out operations at the site, were rebuked by the then energy minister, Charles Hendry, for not reporting the incident.
For more information on the protest in Baclombe, fracking and unconventional gas in the UK, see the Frack Off website [http://frack-off.org.uk/].