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The campaign against the Balcombe fracketeers stepped up this weekend with 2000-strong marches, innovative blockading and the arrival of Reclaim the Power – a crack squad of direct activists connected with No Dash for Gas (of West Burton occupation fame).

Although the RtP camp itself (about a mile and a half from Cuadrilla's Frack-den) received cursory police attention, the actual drill-site - which had already been reinforced with extra fencing and razor-wire - was surrounded by ever-growing legions of them, from as far as Oxford, London and Southampton.

On Saturday many cops moved into the site itself and started patrolling the inside of the perimeter fence. At one stage about twenty cops moved into the field of Christmas trees next to the site, now home to a dissident splinter group of tree-dwellers and chaoto-nihilists. They diligently searched the ground to a chorus of mockery. Despite their best efforts they didn't find a single trace of Santa.

Sunday was the day of the big inclusive march from Balcombe village to the site. It began camp-side with raised tensions, after a man was nicked exiting a portaloo, and vans arrived marked 'Police Dogs'. Two-hundred or so campers, led by the inevitable samba band, marched to Balcombe station at around 2pm.

The crowd there exceeded expectations: a massive two thousand people. A noisy demo then blocked the normally quiet country road before a substantial part of the crowd surrounded the drilling rig, with some holding hands and others rattling the outer fence. With the frackers secure in the razor wire compound the police didn't get too excited and did little to disperse the mob.


Monday morning was Reclaim the Power's "day of action". As cops congregated at the main gate, the news broke that the HQ of Cuadrilla in Lichfield and their PR agency Bell Pottinger in London had been occupied. Described by one protester as a "clusterfuck", the day began with the blockade of Caudrilla's equally evil right hand men, Bell Pottinger, who revel in the grotesque business of painting the likes of Syria, Big Tobacco, and oil bad boys Trafigura in a good light. They call themselves 'sans frontiere' – activists call them 'sans morale'.

A series of pipes held the blockade strong while a loudspeaker played real-life excerpts from a 'community engagement' announcement made by Caudrilla at Balcombe, on a loop: “I know everything that comes out of my mouth sounds like total fucking bullshit... I know that everything that...” Well, you said it.

Meanwhile, at Caudrilla's Litchfield HQ, people glued on at the front while others locked on inside to workstations. The police were forced to climb over the back to gain access. Staff, before evacuation, were heard making indignant claims of “I just can't work in these conditions!”.

On the fringes of the action, Lord 'Frack the desolate North-East' Howell had a 'For Shale' sign erected outside his house, and Francis Maude MP was given the gift of a wind turbine blade at his constituency office in Horsham.

Back to Balcombe

With those tasks accomplished the focus switched back to Balcombe, and cunning use of a critical mass of cyclists as a decoy allowed two groups to lock on in front of the main gates. When more police arrived the bikes formed a handy barricade to stop them getting to the gate and after a lot of pushing and shoving the cops retreated to loud cheers and the usual claims of street ownership.

SchNEWS spoke to one of the self-proclaimed 'shovers': “The cops made another two attempts to push through our line of protesters and failed miserably. Fewer protesters, no bikes and more cops meant that eventually, well after an hour or so and on the fourth attempt the cops finally broke through. They then tried snatching people not always successfully, as a result of some skilful de-arresting.

Once the cops cleared the road they were able to remove and arrest around 30 people, including those locked-on along with a few bystanders such a SchNEWS's local MP Caroline Lucas, but this was after a good six hours. On the whole, we've been told, the police seem to be targeting “effective people or stereotypes”.

The resistance at Balcombe is varied, eclectic and inspiring but if the greybeards at SchNEWS have got one tip - we've noticed that the cops are able to film at will with very little intervention from protesters. They are now using that footage to arrest people later on. Some arrests have been made for FIT watching, it's true, but it isn't compulsory to comply with being filmed! People should do all they can to distract the police filming, even just standing in front of the camera asking why they are filming. You never know, you might just stop you or your mate getting nicked the next day.

Reel News on Balcombe video

For rolling coverage: www.frack-off.org

A shorter version of this article was previously published under the headline 'Balcombe Again'.


There are 2 comments on this story...
Added By: Ciaran Goggins - 14th September 2013 @ 2:04 PM
No Fracking way Jah! With you all the way.
Added By: C Goggins - 25th December 2013 @ 9:54 AM
Above is a fake comment. I P address is Norfolk Police. Did not know you swung that way Schnews.
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Twitter: @SchNEWS