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Day 14 of Balcombe's struggle against Frack attack.

Update - Day 14 Tuesday 6th August

There's now around hundred people at any given time at the anti-fracking camp and numbers are on the up. After the initial excitement the media circus have upped sticks and headed back to London, leaving just BBC South East and their lonely van.

Just one arrest yesterday, a young mum who refused to be pushed around by the increasingly arsey cops. Her seven year-old had to be cared for as she was unceremoniously carted off. Campaigners seem to have adopted the tactic of walking slowly in front of the trucks rather than outright blocking them which at least means the cops have to maintain a huge presence in return for very few nickings.

Three trucks made it in, including one with a pump for the huge amounts of water needed for the drilling operation. Interestingly there were two vans from a rig repair company, hinting that the operation might not be going as smoothly as predicted.

Show your support for the camp and get down there when you can...there are regular car shares and free buses.


UPDATE- Day 8 - Thursday 1st August - The heat is on!!

The heat was on today at Balcombe.

With a swift start at 6.30am six activists drove an old fire engine to the site and then continued to disable the engine. Using d-locks two activists locked themselves on top of the ole fire engine and the other four locked themselves on the cockpit of the fire engine.

It was oh so very stressing for the police and slightly unexpected. It ruined their morning. They boys in blue didn't manage to detach the activists until 12:30, when they also managed to cool the fire engine down and get it off site. After this ingenious manoeuvre everyone on site was left a bit stunned for a game plan, protesters and police alike.

SchNEWS spoke to Odanata on site, “Following the fire engine incident the police became really heavy handed with people. They pushed a middle aged woman on the street, she became very disoriented afterwards.” The was one arrest today, the driver was arrested.

The frack off protesters got together and had a meeting, discussing things to come... The atmosphere is really good, there is a good mix of people ranging from seasoned activists to people that were not really involved in politics or direct action until Cuadrilla came to town. “It is bringing polarised communities together”.

The last word for tonight is “We need more people”.

There are free buses running from Brighton until the end of the camp. So get yourselves down there!


Update - Day 7 - Wednesday 31st July - for continual updates head to http://frack-off.org.uk/

Day 7 at Balcombe started off with die-ins and glue-ons and over 100 protesters on site.

Simon 'sitting bull' Medhurst tunnel specialist of  Bexhill link road fame started the ball rolling by glue-himself on to the Cuadrilla gate with another ner do well in tow. Die-ins and street theatre accompanied the police's own choreographed phalanxing of the four lorries which arrived by lunch.

In the afternoon the actual drill was ferried in - slightly bigger than what you can get at your local B&Q. Once on site SchNEWS took a wander up the road. After evading cops and security, we chatted away happily to the fat controller of the drill site - a Blackpool operative from the firm's earthquake branch. He told us "there was nothing that was gonna go wrong here and the viaduct (London to Brighton trainline) was safe". He fell silent when asked about what happened to the used frack water and whether the near-by reservoir would be contaminated. Then in no uncertain terms he told us we were trespassing and "to sod off" at which point we made our excuses and beat a hasty, tactical retreat.  The G4S Security isn't that great - we counted five or six patrolling the Heras-fenced boundary - presumably as Cuadrilla have a free addition: Sussex Plod there are 100 on any given day, of which ten will have a shift on the gate.

The land in question is owned by the Greenwood family of the Balcombe Estate rumoured to have leased it for £18,000. Simon Greenwood sits on the parish council while pater (so  no nepotism there then) received an MBE in 2009 for services to the community, not held in such high regard now, Richard old boy. He lives at the Stoneham house just round the corner from the camp.

Estimates of the delays and aggro caused by the protestors vary from anything between £100,000 a day to a million quid all in, since the start.

More people mean more delays...so get down there.


Update - Day 5 - Monday 29th July - for continual updates head to http://frack-off.org.uk/

Link to Video

After a relatively quiet day on Sunday, today Monday, saw many vehicles arriving on site. Each delivery was met with heavy resistance. A heavily pregnant woman attempted to stop one of the trucks but was forced away as things got dodgy and dangerous. At the same time a man was arrested and brutally wrestled to the ground with a suspected broken arm. 

For the rest of the afternoon more deliveries regularly turned up but only got through with police marching in front of each HGV and clashing with protesters attempting to stop them. A later delivery of office furniture saw a sit-down protest that resulted in a more significant delay and yet another arrest.

Perhaps as a sign of the struggle ahead the police have installed a mobile office on site and a casual conversation with one cop made it obvious that the police think they are there for the long haul. Some protesters thought it might pay to also set up a solicitor's office and branch of Infinity Foods alongside.


Last Week (original Article)

After Thursday's successful stand -off, Friday saw ninety police deployed to force the first of Cuadrilla's trucks through the human barricades in front of the site gates. As protestors linked arms the cops began to make the first arrests.

Altogether sixteen arrests were made – using a section of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 , which was legislation first brought in to target flying pickets during industrial disputes. Two more were arrested on Saturday morning. Obviously Cuadrilla have now managed to start getting trucks in – but they're on a tight schedule with their drilling licence over by October. Allegedly they were supposed to get drilling today (Saturday) but that's been put back until Monday already. According to Anna Dark, a community representative “They need to get forty days of drilling done before the end of their licence, they've lost a day already – we can stop this!”

Cuadrilla's planning permission only allows for vehicle movements at certain times – they were supposed to stop at 1 pm today. Sussex cops started off claiming that there was an extension but backed down in the face of irate villagers demands to see the paperwork.

Undeterred by the show of repression a large protest camp has sprung up along the verge and with 90% of Balcombe village residents saying they're in favour of direct action this one could run and run.

SchNEWS has heard that there will be no truck movements tomorrow but there will be transport heading from Brighton up to the drilling site – leaving at 9 a.m from outside RBS on the Old Steine

For continuous updates and how to get involved http://frack-off.org.uk

or phone 07858 614861/07 944 087 421

There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Fran - 19th August 2013 @ 7:15 PM
Hello. Are discussions being held to present alternative forms of energy to the government, to power this crazy civilisation that we have created? The writings, patents and blueprints of Nikola Tesla would be a good starting point. With a fraction of the investment that the government has poured into nuclear, wind, solar, gas and now fracking,
I reckon a viable solution could be found with the help of some '6 Hat Thinking'. I would like to discuss this further with people who are interested.
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Twitter: @SchNEWS