The following statement was read by Sheila Menon on behalf of five campaigners, including Caroline Lucas MP, before the start of their trial at Brighton Magistrates Court.
All five campaigners deny obstructing the highway and failing to comply with a condition imposed by police under the Public Order Act.
“On 19th August we took part in a peaceful protest in Balcombe against fracking.
We are here to defend ourselves.
Balcombe is the start of a major struggle over the search and exploitation of yet more fossil fuels – and the stakes could hardly be higher.
This week the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will be published, which is based on thousands of peer-reviewed studies and put together by hundreds of respected scientists.
Leaked drafts suggest it will predict that climate change will cause violent conflict, displace millions of people and wipe trillions of dollars off the global economy.
Time is running out.
The latest science suggests that as much as 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have any hope of avoiding dangerous climate change. In a number of other countries, fracking is banned.
We remain deeply concerned at the prospect of fracking here in the UK. We’d like to thank the people gathered here for all their support.
We have been advised by our lawyer to make no further comment at this stage.