Daily headlines

Fracking timeline August 2013

23/8/13

Costs reach £2.3m Sussex Police says the cost of policing protests at Balcombe has risen to £2.3m and is likely to reach £3.7m. It says the cost of the six-day Reclaim the Power camp, which ended on Wednesday August 21st, were £1.5m, including help from ten other police forces. http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/23/balcombe-policing-costs-soar

National help Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, confirms she will be applying to the Home Office to meet the additional costs of the policing operation. http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/23/balcombe-policing-costs-soar

21/8/13

Camp disbands Reclaim the Power camp ends but original roadside camp remains.

Policing reduced Sussex Police says it is scaling down its policing operation in Balcombe. It says it used powers Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to remove people from a smaller camp in a plantation north of the Cuadrilla site. http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/21/police-scale-down-operation-at-balcombe

Drilling resumes Cuadrilla tells the BBC drilling and deliveries to the Balcombe site have resumed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23791160

Court appearance 10 campaigners appear at Crawley Magistrates Court. All deny the charges and the cases were adjourned until October 2nd for a pre-trial review.

Staying put Charles Metcalfe, campaigner and Balcombe resident, tells the BBC campaigners who have been outside the site for nearly a month will be staying put. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23778323

Lower prices Derek Lickorish, chairman of the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, told The Times “Extracting natural gas from shale has the potential to reduce the cost of gas for heating and generating electricity.”  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3848589.ece

Derek Lickorish, chairman of the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, tells The Times “Extracting natural gas from shale has the potential to reduce the cost of gas for heating and generating electricity.” 21/8/13 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3848589.ece

20/8/2013

Sussex Police charges 10 people arrested yesterday outside the Cuadrilla site at Balcombe. Nine were charged with offences under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 and one with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. They will appear before Crawley Magistrates on September 4th. The police say three men and a 15-year-old girl were released after cautions and a further 15 others were bailed to return to Crawley Police Station later this  month.http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/20/charge-and-bail-details-for-balcombe-arrests

19/8/2013

Blockades No Dash for Gas say a group of campaigners in wheelchairs blockaded the site entrance at Cuadrilla’s site in Balcombe. Campaigners also blockaded Cuadrilla’s headquarters in Lichfield, Staffordshire and the London offices of Bell Pottinger (Cuadrilla’s PR company). The organisation visited the constituency office of Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, and the home of Lord Howell. After arrests outside the Balcombe site, No Dash for Gas says it has complained about police behaviour.  http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/home/updates/

Arrests Sussex Police say 29 people were arrested outside Cuadrilla’s site in Balcombe. http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/19/balcombe-arrest-details-monday-19-august

Pictures from outside Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site

All other means exhausted Caroline Lucas MP tells the BBC after being arrested: “People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us. I’m in the privileged position of being able to put questions to the government directly and arrange debates in parliament, but still ministers have refused to listen. Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent. When the democratic deficit is so enormous, people are left with very little option but to take peaceful, non-violent direct action.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23753750

18/8/2013

Protest numbers double expected Dash for Gas says around 2,000 attend march in Balcombe, double the expected number. See https://www.facebook.com/FrackFreeSussex for pictures

Police thanks for protest. Sussex Police thanks protestors after the march passed without incident. The force says sixty officers are deployed to accompany the march, which concluded with a human chain of protestors forming around the drilling site.
Arrest details  There have been 48 arrests since July 25 and 34 people have been charged. The police say three people were arrested this weekend in connection with earlier incidents.

Daniel Evans, 23, no address given, was arrested at Balcombe on Saturday (August 17). He has been charged with using threatening/abusive/insulting words or behaviour causing harassment/alarm, distress at an incident on Friday. He was bailed to appear at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on August 28.

A 36-year-old man, no address given, was arrested on Sunday (August 18) on suspicion of using threatening words and behaviour outside the entrance to the Cuadrilla site on Wednesday (August 14). He was later released on bail to return on September 15.

A woman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and was being taken into custody on Sunday evening.

17/8/2013

Camp workshops No Dash for Gas holds workshops at the Reclaim the Power camp between Balcombe and Cuckfield. http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/uncategorized/locals-and-supporters-take-action-against-cuadrilla/

Report from the Reclaim the Power camp

Attack on threats of “direct action and intimidation Ken Cronin, who represents the fracking industry, tells the Daily Mail: We cannot allow single issue pressure groups to subvert the rule of law and prevent workers from carrying out their lawful operations, as well as having the safety of the company’s staff and Balcombe’s residents compromised. It is not right that the onshore oil and gas industry has to deal with threats of direct action, intimidation and “mass civil disobedience” against our staff and property, which prevent us carrying out our lawful operations.’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2395922/Police-cave-mob-rule-fracking-Outrage-energy-firm-forced-halt-drilling-safety-reasons-extra-1-000-hardcore-activists-descend-site.html

Sussex Police “not up to it” Tory MP Mark Reckless told the Daily Mail: “We need to face down these green and far-Left extremists who want to stop our economy growing. I am sorry that Sussex Police have simply not been up to the mark to do it. We have certainly lost this battle but, regardless of where you stand on fracking, I hope to ensure we win the war against this type of protest movement.”  In the same paper, the TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “The police are paid to uphold the rule of law and that includes protecting legal exploration for important natural resources from the activist mob trying to shut the operation down. It may be difficult, but they should tell [energy firm] Cuadrilla to go ahead and make it clear that they will do what is necessary to ensure security.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2395922/Police-cave-mob-rule-fracking-Outrage-energy-firm-forced-halt-drilling-safety-reasons-extra-1-000-hardcore-activists-descend-site.html

RSPB issues first objections to fracking The charity is officially objecting to plans to explore for oil and gas at Balcombe  on the grounds that no Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out and because increasing oil and gas use will scupper chances of meeting climate targets. it is also objecting to Lancashire County Council to a proposal by Cuadrilla at Singleton, which is close to an internationally important protected area for pink footed geese and whooper swans and could cause disturbance to the birds. http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/351702-rspb-raises-fracking-fears-for-wildlife-

No Dash for Gas quotes Balcombe resident and physics professor, Lawrence Dunne, on the health effects of flaring:  “There has been no environmental assessment of the health consequences of the flaring of gas emissions over populations anywhere in the world. Contrary to what is put out by the government, no serious environmental assessment of fracking operations in Britain has occurred. The widely-quoted Royal Society report refers very largely to seismicity consequences but says almost nothing about the consequences of fracking for air pollution. In my view, flaring emissions over populations with a high density of flares would be disastrous. The government has done no publicly-scrutinisable work on this. It is a disgrace to pretend otherwise.” https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Dash-for-Gas/301820216584422

16/8/2013

Cuadrilla scales down work Cuadrilla announces it will reduce work at Balcombe during the Reclaim the Power camp. Staff numbers are reduced and reinforced fences go up around the site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23721713

Reclaim the Power Camp opens Reclaim the Power Camp begins  in a field between the villages of Balcombe and Cuckfield http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/

Westwood visits The fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, visits the protest outside the Cuadrilla site

Blanket opposition risks ignoring needs of poor, CofE In a statement, the Chair of the Church of England’s group on Mission and Public Affairs Philip Fletcher said: “There is a danger that viewing fracking through a single issue lens and ignoring the wider considerations. There are a number of balancing considerations which need to be taken into account when coming to a view. Fuel poverty is an increasingly urgent issue for many in society – the impact on energy bills is felt most by the least well off. Blanket opposition to further exploration for new sources of fuel fails to take into account those who suffer most when resources are scarce.” http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2013/08/statement-from-church-of-england-on-fracking.aspx

Policing costs top £700,000 Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, says policing the Balcombe protest has cost £729,196 up to August 15th. This comprises:

£65,867 on help from other forces

£20,940 on travel and subsistence

£4,000 on supplies and services

£79,853 on ordinary overtime

£425,745 on rest day working

£132,791 on salary costs

Ms Bourne says Sussex Police will ask for help from the government to meet the costs. http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/16/balcombe-policing-costs-approach-%C2%A3750,000

15/8/2013

Consultation 2 due to end Closing date for representations against Cuadrilla’s application for variation of condtions 2 and 3 of WSCC/027/10/BA. See Documents (Balcombe FAQs) http://buildings.westsussex.gov.uk/ePlanningOPS/tabPage3.jsp?aplId=1154

Overriding local concerns will make things more difficult, Yeo “Local concerns have to be respected and any form of legal and peaceful protest is legitimate activity. But there is the national interest as well and one of the difficult things for the Government is the balance of how strong the planning guidance should be to compel local communities to accept it…. Trying to compel people. Trying to override legitimate concerns will make it more difficult rather than easier.”  BBC Radio 4 Today

14/8/2013

Balcombe not a great site, Cuadrilla  Matt Lambert, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Cuadrilla, tells BBC Sussex that Balcombe  “is not a great site for production because production is a completely different thing from exploration. Exploration for oil is a short timer project and really if the protestors would let us get on and do our work we would be fnished in a few months’ time. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0387dr7/South_East_Today_14_08_2013/

Campaigners not celebrating over Cuadrilla statement Balcombe resident, Charles Metcalfe, says he is taking Cuadrilla’s comments about production at the site near the village with “several tablespoons of salt.” Ewa Jasiewicz, from No Dash for Gas, says Cuadrilla is “running scared”. “It is no coincidence this comes before a major action and mass mobilisation targeting them. We don’t take this seriously.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23697554

Bail conditions dropped 14 people arrested at the Cuadrilla site in July appear at Crawley Magistrates Court. All plead not guilty. Police bail conditions, which imposed an exclusion zone around the site, are challenged successfully and magistrates issue unconditional bail allowing the campaigners to return to the protest. https://investigatingbalcombeandcuadrilla.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/arrested-campaigners-free-to-return-to-protest-as-police-conditions-ruled-unlawful/

Fracking risk to drinking water The Argus newspaper reports that the government knew more than a year ago that there was a risk that drinking water in Sussex could be contaminated by chemicals used in fracking. The paper says the Environment Agency privately briefed ministers that fracking near aquifers should not be permitted. But the organisation’s head of climate change later changed the wording on a public statement so as not to create “too stark a message” about fracking. http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10610762.Secret_emails_reveal_the_risk_to_water_in_Sussex_from_fracking_was_known_by_officials/

Dutch support Group of campaigners from the Netherlands arrive at Balcombe to support the protest. BBC South East Today

Camp is cross between fete and Glastonbury Sue Taylor from Balcombe tells Radio 4’s Summer Nights about her part in the protest in the village. She describes the camp as “a cross between a garden fete and Glastonbury. There are no drugs, there is no alcohol. It is very well organised and it is very communal. It is not like anything I have ever seen before. There is a large tent where they prepare food which is free to everybody. There are portaloos – six of them – so there is more than enough for all the people who are there during the day. There are workshops and creches for children. There is an enormously wide range of people.”

“I am so pleased to go there and to talk to so many people who are against fracking. Everyone is talking either about fracking, coal bed methane, what is happening in their areas.” Transcript of the programme

Camp has 100+ protestors Sussex Police issue a third briefing to stakeholders for Operation Mansell – the name for policing operation at Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site. The briefing reports 100+ people at the protest camp, which is expected to increase from tomorrow and over the weekend, up to anticipated 1,000 people. A meeting of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group, representing statutory bodies across Sussex (fire, ambulance, West Sussex County Council, Mid Sussex District Council and the Environment Agency) meets tomorrow (15/8/13) to co-ordinate responses to the camp. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/police-briefing.pdf

13/8/2013

Consultation deadline extended Consultation due to end on application by Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd for an environmental permit to operate a radioactive substances activity at Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site. Environment Agency extends the deadline to August 28th. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/library/consultations/148773.aspx

Fracking unlikely in Balcombe Cuadrilla tells the BBC’s Industry Correspondent, John Moyland,  that its exploration site at Balcombe is unlikely to become a full production location because other sites have better transport links and are more suited to producing oil. But the company does not rule out using fracking at the well at Balcombe in the future. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23688653

Balcombe unlikely to be production site Cuadrilla tells Balcombe Parish Council, after a request for clarification, “The Balcombe site is suitable for exploration because of the previous history of exploration drilling by Conoco in 1986 but it is unlikely to be taken forward as a production site”. http://balcombeparishcouncil.com/

Cuadrilla pain for no gain Greenpeace Energy Campaigner, Leila Deen, responds to Cuadrilla’s statement to the BBC, saying If the company is not going to extract shale there, it owes local residents an assurance and should give details of when it will leave the village, where it’s clearly not wanted. Cuadrilla has caused a lot of pain in Balcombe for no gain, which is likely to be the experience of fracking across England. At least after the scale of opposition and protest in Balcombe, other communities will feel empowered to fight back.” http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/public-pressure-getting-cuadrilla-greenpeace-20130813

Howell chairs energy networking group An investigation by CorporateWatch.org reveals details of the Windsor Energy Group, an organisation that helps energy companies network with politicians and civil servants. The website says the organisation is chaired by Lord Howell, father-in-law of George Osborne and the Conservative Peer who said parts of the “desolate” north were suitable for fracking. The website says the organisation’s supporters include BP, Shell and British Gas. http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=4960

Councillors defend “no comment” In a statement, Balcombe Parish Council comments on reports that it failed to respond to Cuadrilla’s application for planning consent in January 2010. The Council says it was invited to comment on a proposal to  upgrade existing stoned platform and drill an exploratory borehole for oil and gas exploration” at the [existing] Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site. The council says no details were attached, although there was a link to a web address where the application could be inspected. The Parish Council says it assumed that it was another company seeking to check the findings of Conoco, which drilled at the site in 1986. The Council says “This was a complex and highly technical application and BPC felt it lacked the expertise to assess the application. It therefore felt no reason to object. This is an assumption for which BPC [Balcombe Parish Council ]has publicly apologised on numerous occasions….With the wisdom of hindsight BPC should have subjected the application to close scrutiny and advertised it far more widely. But it should be borne in mind that it is highly unlikely that any comments or objections that it might have made would have affected the outcome of the application. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/statement-by-bpc-13-8-13.pdf

Total arrests – 40 Sussex Police say up to today there have been 40 arrests and 33 people charged with offences allegedly commited outside the Cuadrilla site. The police say charges include stopping drivers and other workers from accessing the site under the Section 241 Trade Union Labour Relations Act, obstruction of the highway and obstruct/resisting a constable in the execution of duty. The police say approximately 100 officers a day are currently policing the site and this is liely to continue during the period of the Reclaim the Power protest camp. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/police-briefing.pdf

12/8/2013

More arrests Two arrests outside the exploration site. http://frack-off.org.uk/latest-news-from-the-great-gas-gala-day-19/

Would the PM be happy with fracking at home? The Prime Minister’s spokesman will not say if David Cameron would be happy to see fracking near his country home. The spokesman would only say that the Prime Minister “supports fracking” and that he would be “perfectly happy for the right processes to be followed” in his local area. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10237917/No-10-will-not-say-if-David-Cameron-would-be-happy-to-see-fracking-near-his-country-home.html

Councillors rejects unlawful action Chairman of Balcombe Parish Council, Alison Stevenson, writes to residents strongly opposing “any actions which may be taken which involve civil treaspass and/or illegal acts. And I further state this, if the No Dash for Gas group is coming here in the full knowledge that it intends to break the law then it should stay away. It is duly uninvited.” http://balcombeparishcouncil.com/2013/08/12/letter-from-the-chairman-of-balcombe-parish-council/

No comment on permit application Rodney Saunders, vice chair of Balcombe Parish Council writes to Chris Wick, of the Environment Agency, to tell him that the council has no new information or local knowledge that would be material to the determination of the application by Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd for a permit to manage waste water which may contain naturally occuring radioactive substances. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/letter-to-ea-13-8-13.pdf

11/8/2013

Jerusalem in Balcombe Belt it out Balcombe – choir of local people sing a version of Jerusalem outside the Cuadrilla site. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HU9Ke6pWvs

“Britain can’t afford to miss out on shale gas”, PM David Cameron, in an article for the Daily Telegraph, says Britain cannot afford to miss out on shale gas. He says it “real potential to drive energy bills down”. He quoted a study which predicted that 74,000 posts could be supported by a thriving shale gas industry in this country. And he says fracking will bring money to local neighbourhoods.  “I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together”.  “If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits – and get proper reassurance about the environment – then I don’t see why fracking shouldn’t get real public support.” Mr Cameron denies fracking will damage the countryside and says it is part of Britain’s tradition of scientific discovery, enterprise and innovation “so let’s seize it”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10236664/We-cannot-afford-to-miss-out-on-shale-gas.html

No automatic payments for Balcombe A spokesman for Cuadrilla tells The Telegraph website that any fracking by Cuadrilla in Balcombe may not automatically trigger payments of £100,000 promises to residents near most new fracking sites because the rocks are now shale. The spokesman says “If an application was to be made to carry out hydraulic fracturing at the Balcombe exploration well site this would not mean that there would be no community benefit. This would be consulted on, through communications with the local community if such an operation was proposed.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10236489/Fracking-may-not-trigger-100000-benefits-for-Balcombe.html

10/8/2013

Thanks for campaign support The Crawley and Horley Observer publishes a letter from Kathryn McWhirter, Balcombe resident and member of NoFiBS (No Fracking in Balcombe Society), which responds to “the distorted portrayal of what is happening in Balcombe”. Ms McWhirter says “We are hugely grateful to those who have so kindly come to support our cause, from towns and villages around Sussex, and places such as Lancashire and Wales – areas equally under threat of oil and gas drilling.” http://www.crawleyobserver.co.uk/news/letters/letter-distorted-portrayal-of-balcombe-fracking-1-5362698

Rational and irrational concerns about fracking Sir David King, the Government’s former Scientific Advisor, tells the Today programme there are irrational and rational concerns about fracking. He dismisses concerns that water could catch fire and earthquakes will be generated as a result of fracking and. But he says “It is certainly possible that there will be tremors, and we know this from the practice in the United States. More than a million wells around the world have so far been created so we know quite a lot about it.….Another issue has been raised which is the contamination of surface water and I think this is one of the issues that has to be dealt with with very careful legislation.”

Careful regulation needed “There are a set of issues that need to be dealt with through very careful regulation and I think we need to see that this information all goes out into the public domain. From the North Sea, in total we collected about 100 trillion cubic fee of gas which was used for the UK in general. The estimate is that we could recover more than that from fracking and that this would therefore have a big impact on our economy. The real issue is going to be proper regulation to avoid any contamination of surface water, proper regulation to see that there isn’t leakage of gas into the atmosphere – that is a real issue and we know how to measure that.. the greenhouse gas effect which is far greater than carbon dioxide.”

Aesthetic problemThere’s an aesthetic issue that we can’t duck. We are going to need to sink something like a thousand to two thousand wells a year in the short term in this country. In the United States they are currently sinking around 25,000 wells a year. That can be absorbed in a large country of low density population without too much impact on local environments and aesthetics. But it is a much bigger issue in a country like the UK where we have a very high density population.

“Don’t put off alternative technologies” “Eventually by 2050, at the government’s latest estimate, we will have weaned ourselves of fossil fuels verylargely. We will continue to depend on gas fired turbines because they can be swtiched on and off very quickly… but at the same time we will cut back on our dependence. This is a transitional process. We can wean ourselves off coal very much more rapidly by switching to gas. And gas is much better in terms of the environment than coal but eventually we will also have to wean ourselves of gas. My worry is that we will then put off the alternative technologies. I think it is very very important for government to make it clear how we will continue to work on the development of alternative technologies. Transcript from Today Programme 10/8/13

9/8/2013

Camp meeting Meeting in Balcombe Parish Room hosted by No Fracking in Balcombe Society where the No Dash for Gas group informed residents about Reclaim the Power’s Action Camp to be held in Balcombe 16-20th August. http://balcombeparishcouncil.com/2013/08/10/no-dash-for-gas-meeting-report-9-august/

8/8/2013

Call to oppose planning application Friends of the Earth issues a statement urging people to take part in the consultation over Cuadrilla’s application for amendments to its planning permission for drilling at Balcombe. http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/climate/press_for_change/stop_fracking_balcombe_40940.html#.Ugx75I-hDgA.facebook

7/8/2013

Two in court Two people arrested at the Cuadrilla site appear at Crawley Magistrates. Bail conditions of one defendant changed significantly. Bail condition of a second defendant changed slightly to allow her to use the railway line from Brighton to London. Shorthand note

Council did not discuss or object The Independent and Private Eye reveal that Balcombe Parish Council made no objection to Cuadrilla’s planning application, without consulting the village. Alison Stevenson, now chair of the parish council, said “Because it was an established site and is still an oil platform and is heavily shielded from the road we didn’t feel a need to object to it or to take the matter any further. I fully accept now that this was a bad judgement call. We’re as gutted as anybody else that we missed it,” http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/balcombe-fracking-row-takes-fresh-twist-as-it-emerges-parish-council-raised-no-objection-to-drilling-8750764.html

Policing bill £73,000 Sussex Police says its operation at the Cuadrilla site has cost £73,000 in logistical support and overtime. The figure does not include the salary cost of officers deployed. Supt Lawrence Hobbs says about 100 officers a day are currently on the site. “We have the support of mutual aid from forces in the South East to provide us with resilience.” http://www.sussex.police.uk/pressline/2013/08/07/police-preparing-for-more-protesters-at-balcombe-site

6/8/2013

Reclaim the Power camp moves to Balcombe. No Dash for Gas announces it is switching its camp from West Burton power station to the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe. The camp will run from August 16-21. The organisation says: “We are responding to the call for support from the community in Balcombe opposing fracking. We share their serious concerns about the environmental and social impacts of fossil fuel extraction in their area. Balcombe is a test case for rolling out fracking across the country – with drilling concessions planned for 64% of the surface of England alone. if we can stop it in Balcombe, we can stop it elsewhere. http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/uncategorized/no-dash-for-gas-action-camp-to-switch-location-from-west-burton-power-station-to-balcombe/

Teenager in court A 15 year old boy arrested at the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe appears before Crawley Youth Court.  https://twitter.com/Frack_Off/status/364662477042098176/photo/1

Cuadrilla seeks to reassure Cuadrilla CEO, Francis Egan, says: “We’ve no intention of ruining the countryside and we won’t ruin the countryside.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23591658

“Balcombe unlikely to be fracked”, Minister Cabinet Officer minister and MP for Horsham, Francis Maude, tells BBC South East Today  “I absolutely think that Britain, which is sitting on very considerable energy reserves, should be exploiting those energy reserves wherever it makes sense to do it. Wherever the question arises there has to be an exhaustive process gone through which takes fully account of local residents’ concerns. Wherever it happens and there are several places in England where exactly what is going on at Balcombe is going on without any of the consents having been required.

“My understanding any way is that even if the company conclude that there are reserves here which are … capable of being commercially exploited through fracking Balcombe is unlikely to be the place where they would choose to do it from.

“I’m certainly not willing to say as a matter of dogma there are no places in Sussex where this should happen but it has to be done in a way that is exhaustively regulated with all the consents being obtained with the voices of local people properly heard and respected.”

“There are brakes which are about the need for planning permission and the need for all consents needed by the Environment Agency to ensure that there are not risks to the water suply and that the environment is properly protected. And no one is suggesting that those requirements should be short circuited.

“There are two lots of people. There are local people from the village who have perfectly proper concerns. And there are a lot of people who have come in from outside and as far as I am aware none of the people who have been arrested in some of the unhappy scenes that we have seen at Balcombe are people from the village itself or indeed from the locality.

They [people protesting] have concerns that are perfectly proper to raise and those concerns have to be addressed. Everything that I have seen about what’s being done with this exploratory bore hole is that the concerns have been addressed. What people are protesting about is much less abut this exploratory bore holde but about the possiblity that it will lead in the future to fracking and as I say before that were ven able to be contemplated there would have to be an exhaustive further set of processes and consents to be gained. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23591658

Local MP and minister defends support for Balombe Francis Maude tells Meridian TV he was well aware of Balcombe sentiment: “I knew there were a lot of people in the village who had a lot of understandable concerns about fracking. Of course what is being undertaken by the company is not fracking. They do not have concent to do that. They would have to go through an exhaustive further set of processes before they have permission to do that and of course there are two things going on there. One is the completely legitimate right of local people to make their voices heard and the second thing is the right of the company having got the requisite consents to go  ahead with this exploratory bore hole.

“I have responded to all the letters. I have visited the village. I have talked to people in the village. I am very well aware of local sentiment. I know the site. I have visited the site previously and I have in the meantime taked to the Minister for Energy. I have talked to the company and I have talked to the Environment Agency to raise concerns that local people have. But I say again there is a right for the company to undetake lawful activity.”

“My understanding is that if fracking is the answer here long-term, which we do not know at this stage, nor does the company,  then Balcombe is unlikely to be the place where it would happen. The site is in any event the best part of a mile from the village. These are all questions for the future. This is not in anyones back yard. It is in the countryside.” Transcript of Meridian broadcast  and http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2013-08-06/francis-maude-im-well-aware-of-balcombe-sentiment/

“No good reasons for fracking”, Green MP Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, visits Cuadrilla site and says Britain is in the front line of fracking. She describes fracking as a grotesque and obscene way of getting energy. She says political will and resources should be put into renewables and energy efficiency. “The vast majority of fossil fuels should be left under the ground if the world is to have any chance of avoiding two degrees of warming.” “There are no good reasons for fracking….What there are are political vested interests and financial vested interests.” http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/08/06/caroline-lucas-speech-at-balcome-frack-free-camp-(video)/

5/8/2013

West Sussex letter angers villagers Some Balcombe villagers criticise the letter from West Sussex County Council apologising for disruption caused by protestors. Suzie Horne told BBC Sussex  “I’m livid about it. How can somebody from West Sussex County Council presume to apologise for something that many, many Balcombe residents are supporting? These people are supposed to be looking after our interests in Balcombe and representing what we think about this and it seems to be that they’re representing the interests of this industry that is on our doorstep. It’s going to go across the whole of Sussex and much, much further. I’m furious about it and I’m not the only one. We need to know on what basis are the county council making this apology. I have had no inconvenience from these people who are here. A lot of these people are very local. There are people down from Balcombe here everyday so don’t listen to anyone who tells you it is just people coming in from outside because it isn’t.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23577367

3/8/2013

Fracking warning The Mail on Sunday quotes Michael Fallon, Minister for Energy and Business and MP for Sevenoaks in Kent, warning rural residents of the effects of fracking. At a private meeting at Westminster, he referred to people living in the countryside who have supported fracking. “We are going to see how thick their rectory walls are, whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive”. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2384191/Doomsday-alert-fracking-minister-warns-rectory-walls-quaking-Middle-England-drilling-continues.html

Balcombe poll opposes fracking Balcombe residents announce the result of its village opinion poll on fracking which showed that 85% were against. About 250 villagers take part in the community blockade of the Balcombe site. http://frack-off.org.uk/latest-news-from-the-great-gas-gala-day-10/

2/8/2013

Drilling begins Cuadrilla announces it has begun exploratory drilling at 11.15. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23547861

West Sussex apologises for protestors West Sussex County Council leader, Louise Goldsmith, sends letter to Balcombe residents “I am very sorry for the disruption that you have experience over the past couple of weeks from protesters at Lower Stumble Wood. Here at West Sussex Council Council, the interests of our residents are our primary concern and I am keen to ensure that we support you as much as we can during this challenging time.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23577367

Two arrests Sussex Police say two people were arrested at the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe after assaults on police officers. http://www.sussex.police.uk/whats-happening/latest/news-stories/2013/08/02/two-arrested-for-assault-on-police-at-balcombe-protest/

1/8/2013

Police letter to residents Chief Inspector Jon Hull, Mid Sussex District Commander, writes to Balcombe villagers to explain Sussex Police’s role in policing the anti-fracking protests. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/sussex-police-letter-1-aug-2013.pdf

Councillors meet Environment Agency Balcombe Parish Council’s Oil Exploration Working Group meets representatives of the Environment Agency. The Parish Council concluded it has no local knowledge or new information relevant to the determination of Cuadrilla’s application for a permit under the Radioactive Substances Regulations and will respond accordingly under the public consultation. http://balcombeparishcouncil.com/2013/08/10/environment-agency-consultation-on-permit-under-radioactive-substances-regulations/

Councilllors’ admission Balcombe Parish Council chairman, Alison Stevenson, admits the council did not appreciate the full implicatons of Cuadrilla’s original application in 2010. http://balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/bpc-response-re-cuadrilla-extension.pdf

Fire engine blocks entrance An antique fire engine blocks the entrance of Cuadrilla’s site in Balcombe. Later towed away with two people inside. http://frack-off.org.uk/latest-news-from-the-great-gas-gala-day-8/

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