Government policy on fracking is “madness” – climate change campaigner tells court

17th April 2014

A climate change campaigner told Brighton Magistrates Court this morning she took part in a protest outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe to raise awareness of the “madness” of government policy on fracking.

Ruth Jarman said “fracking is the wrong direction”. She wanted to “raise awareness of the madness of drilling more fossil fuels when we already have enough”.

Miss Jarman, 50, of Hook in Hampshire, is on trial, along with the MP Caroline Lucas and three other campaigners. It is alleged all five obstructed the highway at Balcombe on August 19th and failed to comply with a condition on protesting imposed by police under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. They all deny the charges. A verdict is expected at 2pm today.

Miss Jarman, a Christian, told the court: “We have a moral responsibility to lead the world away from climate change. She said the UK had a choice between renewable energy and fossil fuels. “It is not a matter of abating coal”, Miss Jarman said. “It is a choice of going for gas and new gas-powered power stations, that would be around for the next 30-50 years, or putting the money into clean green renewable energy.”

Answering questions from her barrister, Owen Greenhall, Miss Jarman said she joined a sit-down protest outside Cuadrilla’s main gate at about noon on August 19th. She said there had been a carnival atmosphere until police used the pressure point technique to arrest Caroline Lucas’s son.

“I had never seen anything like it. The police were allowing us to protest and then suddenly they were hurting us.”

After Theo Lucas’s arrest, Miss Jarman said “It was confusing and chaotic. There was a lot of noise”. She said she didn’t hear police telling protesters about Section 14, a designated protest area or conditions of the protest. She also said she wasn’t aware that emergency access was needed at the site or that she was obstructing the highway.

Miss Jarman told the court she had been cautioned in 2008 after being arrested at a protest at Kingsnorth Power Station for allegedly breaching a Section 14 condition. Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, said the caution described her as an organiser of the protest. “That’s news to me”, Miss Jarman said. “I certainly didn’t organise that protest”.

Mr Edwards asked her: “You were aware that police wanted you to move”. Miss Jarman said “I was aware they didn’t want us to be there. I just felt that this is so important. The government must understand that they are taking us in the wrong direction.”

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