Claims of “unpredictable policing” at Broadford Bridge oil drilling protest

Broadford Bridge arrest 170601

Arrest near Broadford Bridge site, 1 June 2017. Photo: Netpol

The organisation which monitors protest policing has raised concerns about tactics by officers at opposition to onshore drilling in West Sussex.

Netpol said Sussex Police had described a section of road on the route to the Broadford Bridge oil exploration site near Billingshurst as a “tolerated slow walking area”.

Broadford Bridge police slow walking area2


The 600m route was marked on a map (above) and given to protesters who had gathered outside the site in Adversane Lane.

But on the first occasion the proposal was tested, on 1 June, Netpol said officers began issuing warnings when protesters were no more than 20 metres into the indicated area. Protesters were also filmed by police evidence gatherers, Netpol said.

A Netpol representative, who was monitoring the protest, said:

“We saw some officers quickly become very aggressive and one protester was arrested for failing to give his name and address under Section 50 powers [of the Police Reform Act] designed for tackling anti-social behaviour. The officer claimed the protester had allegedly called him a ‘pig’ and said this constituted ‘anti-social behaviour’.

“What was evident from the events we witnessed at Broadford Bridge was that officers had either not been briefed about a ‘tolerated slow walking area’ or that Sussex Police had abandoned the proposal, without informing protesters, within hours of offering it.

“This contrast between promises made by senior officers and what actually happens on the ground is an issue Netpol has heard time and again at anti-fracking protests around the country. It leads to the uncertainty about what might trigger an arrest that is part of the ‘chilling effect’ on rights to protest we warned about last year.”

Netpol said protesters were increasingly reluctant to believe anything they were told by the police. The organisation added:

“Sussex Police does seem to have set a new record, however, in how quickly it says it plans to conduct an operation and then how quickly its officers deliver the exact opposite.”

DrillOrDrop asked Sussex Police to respond to Netpol’s complaints. We will update this post with any comment.

54 replies »

    • The fantastic news in stories such as this is that it has come to this point for anti-frackers. Their “victories” make up brief moments when they can actually get a few people to pay attention to them. Unfortunately for them, the few people who turn their head for a brief moment merely feel sorry for them or feel contempt at their “anti-social” behavior. Anti-frackers are firmly entrenched in a downward spiral at this point, and there is no graceful way for them to exit. The more they do, the worse society feels about them. Doing less means giving up, and doing more means moving further to the fringe. It is not a pretty picture for the anti-frackers – they lost long, long ago when they allowed the propaganda of fear to set their agenda rather than relying on facts and empirical evidence. .

      • Their “victories” make up brief moments.

        In case you have not been following. First applications to frack into UK shale 2010.

        7 years on. No gas.

        Reasons. Resolve of local communities and technical failings of Preese Hall.

        Another few 7 year ‘brief’ moments and we will have to have reduced our carbon dioxide emissions by 80%

        Giddy up snail shale.

        • And the nation leading the way in reducing carbon dioxide emissions???…..yes, none other than the shale gas pioneer, the United States of America – thank you very much! Yet again showing the world how to get things done.

  1. Yep irrelevant made up organisation. Don’t get in the way and then no problem. This isnt fracking

    • Unlike normal people they’re not at all bothered about things like that. They just want to try and force their opinions on others. When the majority yawns and doesn’t pay attention they try and cause more trouble to compensate. After that comes the special pleading that they’re just doing it for everyone else – oh why can’t people just agree with them. If people really don’t do as they want then comes the ‘borderline’ (in the sense of trying to limit it to only minor law breaking) violence, or direct action as they like to call it. As if anyone would ever consider the sort of stuff they do to be peaceful if one neighbour started doing it to another because they disagreed with them.

      Its the perpetrator defining what ‘violence’ means. The perpetrator defines violence to mean only physical attacks and therefore anything they do is not violent so long as they avoid that. Forget that there are numerous other types of violence that are designed to apply psychological pressure and harm to others in an attempt to force people to obey. Its all legal-ish though. Or at least won’t get you much other than an exclusion order and a fine. I’m amazed more extreme groups perpetrate such vile acts when they could just do stuff like this and shut down towns, motorways etc.

  2. This conflict between ordinary people – protestors and police – is one of the worst results of the Government’s lack of honesty & failure in duty of care in promoting the fracking industry

  3. [Edited by moderator] what on earth has fracking to do with this site??

    This site is not to be fracked, it is bog standard drilling to explore for conventional oil. It is clearly shown in all the documentation and repeatedly referenced as such on Drill or Drop. The Weald exploration has received a huge amount of coverage, and is a continuation of what various Governments have allowed over several decades. I suggest the lack of honesty is nothing to do with Government.

  4. The protestors obstruct a train crossing layby with a workmans site office baring a number plate from an sorn untaxed & tested car. It’s parked the wrong way round, so the reflectors don’t work. It’s mainly dark green.
    I assume it’s the same site office from Brockham.
    How does this site hut travel between sites? On false plates? Or Behind an uninsured, mot’d, untaxed car?
    Then it’s dangerously parked, in the wrong place, the wrong way round.

  5. The anti brigade are under the impression if they keep being annoying the onshore O&G companies will simply give up. The UK is very different from Oz.
    There is nothing ‘ordinary’ about these protestors.

    • People pay a premium to live in the British countryside. They will not sit back and let any intrusive toxic industry establish near their homes.

      Communities have the need, commitment, and resources to see off any new onshore fossil fuel industry.

      As the Government won’t take the onshore industry as a nationally significant infrastructure project, the industry will not succeed.

      • I thought Sandbanks had some of the most expensive housing in the UK, and they seem to be unaffected by Wytch Farm.

      • I personally have listened to Cuadrilla proclaim that an onshore oil and gas industry would produce the ‘ Aberdeen Effect’ suggesting house prices in sleepy rural villages would increase if fracking sites were placed a few hundred metres from doorsteps.

        I am happy to be amongst the very very large percentage of people who think that suggestion is preposterous.

        All those who believe people will pay more to choose a fracking site over quiet country lanes, woodland, and open countryside really should consider snapping up property around Lancashire sites to cash in on the Bonanza.

        The best time to sell would be during the fracking process when prospective buyers could in hail maximum fumes and have the 24 hour noise disruption which is presumably part of the attraction.

        As the industry intends to come back and re frack every few years you may be tempted to hold onto your asset till then as the demand to live as close as possible to these sites will obviously have increased and prices will rocket even further.

        The mind boggles.

        • Very deceptive post, John Powney. First, where is your evidence that such a massive proportion of the population rejects the idea that Cuadrilla offered – that the wealth brought by fracking would increase home prices in a local area? Please cite that for us.

          We have plenty of evidence of broad housing value increases as a result of fracking. We also know that homes closest to wells typically fall in value. This is part of why homeowners close to wells are compensated.

          The mind does boggle with the amount of misinformation and hype supplied by anti-frack-hysterics.

          • Who is ‘we’ Rex and where is your evidence of house price increases near fracking sites. Independent sources only please (not citing your oil and gas advocacy groups). Such humbug.

            • Here is one, Philip P.

              Note the conclusion is exactly as I have stated. Homes very close to fracking sites lose value initially, but homes in the communities benefit from the general rise in economic activity and see appreciation. Conveniently enough, this fits with logic as well. Now if fracking destroyed the countryside and poisoned a community’s water, this NY state assessment wouldn’t be accurate, would it?

              Dontcha hate it when facts get in the way of a good scaremongering story???

            • Dream on Rex. Firstly those figures are all speculative, not actual outcomes for NY state – and haven’t you noticed that NY state actually banned fracking outright. Secondly none of the figures are based on anything beyond 2010 i.e. going back the old fracking boom years – when it probably was profitable and there was a bit of money left over for community spending. Thirdly wherever I’ve seen communities with raised hopes about big spending on new facilities etc there have been big disappointments followed by people who can’t sell their properties. If anything all that will get spent will be the money on road strengthening – necessary to carry the increased heavy trucking for the o&g industry. Sorry this is looking more and more like a scam – a ponzi scheme on steroids.

        • John
          Would the Aberdeen Effect be the one which, due to protests, only allows you to build a ring road once the traffic levels ( or oil price) have dropped? Perhaps Cuadrilla had that model in mind?
          But yes, you could not really compare Aberdeen with fracking. Fracking would be more dispersed, with many areas sharing the up and downsides, and it not all invisible over the horizon.

          Perhaps it would be more like the British Coal Effect. Dispersed, but in this case, not as subsidised.

      • John, I suggest you check the prices of inner city flats and take note of the cost per sqft. Then repeat for countryside properties….. You’ll at least learn one thing in your old age if nothing else. And don’t try and be sneaky and choose a slum and compare it to a luvly jubly postcode. Like for like a bit like comparing US fracking to UK fracking orrrr conventional v unconventional. You sneaky lot you!

  6. I love the way John posts inaccurate information on a continuous basis.

    Firstly, people do NOT pay a premium to live in the British countryside. Compare central London with parts of Lincolnshire. Some areas of the countryside may require a premium as will some urban areas.

    Had a discussion with a friend who had recently visited Wytch Farm, and is an avid walker in the New Forest. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience as she did when visiting the neighbouring nature reserve. She made the point to me that both lived next to each other without any problem and to her mind, it was a perfect example of how industry and the countryside should be considered.

  7. OIL DRILLING PROTEST-not fracking. If you want to continue identifying that you are unaware of what you are commenting on, don’t be surprised if the public switch off altogether.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s