Campaigners reject Surrey’s description of anti-fracking protests as “extremism”

190911 Horse Hill DoD4

Campaigners gathering outside Surrey County Council in advance of decision meeting on oil production at Horse Hill, 11 September 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Environmental campaigners have dismissed Surrey County Council’s use of the term “extremism” for anti-fracking protests.

Nearly three years ago, the Home Office confirmed that opposition to fracking was no longer seen as “an indicator of vulnerability to extremism”.

But last month, Surrey County Council was continuing to class anti-fracking protests as extremism.

The practice was revealed by the police monitoring organisation, Netpol, after a student complained about a video shown to a council training course. The British values film included references to “protesting against fracking” as an alleged “extremist” activity.

Vicki Elcoate, of Frack Free Surrey, said today:

“It’s deeply disturbing that Surrey County Council is saying that residents who protest against the massive expansion of oil and gas exploration in the county are ‘extremists’.

“These are local people who care about the climate, their local environment and democracy and who haven’t had their voices heard.

“There is nothing ‘extreme’ about that view – protests have involved well-known actors and local and national politicians, as well as regular people who all care passionately about protecting our countryside and water.”

Ms Elcoate said:

“There have been very few arrests at oil sites in Surrey. Some people were left for months worried and stressed before charges were dropped after arrests at Brockham.

“It was Surrey County Council that failed to stop drilling without planning permission at Brockham.

“They’ve also just permitted a huge expansion of oil drilling at Horse Hill despite declaring a Climate Emergency.

“That’s the real threat: not listening to what local residents are telling them about the harm to our environment this expansion will cause”.

“Main extremist areas of concern”

According to Netpol, Surrey County Council’s safeguarding officer said the reference to anti-fracking protests had been included deliberately in the video to “contextualise extremist action to Surrey”.

The officer reportedly said:

“when making the video earlier this year the police advice was that the main extremist areas of concern in Surrey were Far Right and Anti-Fracking activities rather than religion. I have not received any update on this position”.

The council was asked to remove this part of the video. But according to Netpol, the council responded by saying that any protest, no matter how peaceful, was “extremist”.

Netpol reported that the safeguarding officer said “at the time of making the video, illegal activity by anti-fracking extremists in Surrey was a particular cause for concern to the police”.

In December 2016, the Home Office was issued a statement saying “support for anti-fracking is not an indicator of vulnerability” to extremism. This followed reports about City of York Council and a school in North Yorkshire including anti-fracking campaigns in their counter-terrorism advice.

Nearly a year later, in September 2017, the counter-terrorism local profile for Surrey showed that “community tensions related to onshore oil and gas operations” were a priority for counter-terrorism officers in East Surrey.

Netpol said today:

“We now know that following years of pressure, central government has abandoned the use of the “domestic extremism” categorisation, even if the police appear to continue to use a label that has been described as ‘manifestly deficient’.

“There is no evidence whatsoever of any link between anti-fracking campaigns and extremism, never mind a risk of ‘terrorism-related activity’.

“There is simply no reason for counter-terrorism officers to view anti-fracking protests as a priority for the government’s Prevent programme and no reason for the police to target protesters for ‘domestic extremist’ surveillance.”

DrillOrDrop asked Surrey County Council and Surrey Police to respond to the findings.

A spokesperson for the county council said:

“As a council we recognise the right to peaceful protest, and indeed actively encourage residents to have their say on societal issues including fracking and the green agenda.

“As a public body we have a duty to recognise and intervene in ‘extremism’ that can lead to illegal activity.

“When highlighting this duty, it is important to recognise that not all extremism is religious-based, but can involve illegal activity undertaken by a wide range of groups.

“However, in doing this, we have never generalised any group of people as extremists, and certainly would not label residents protesting lawfully as extremists.

“Adult Learning continually reviews all its learning resources. We are already in the process of reviewing the current content of our video in response to learner feedback, which will be completed before it is used again.”

The spokesperson added that the video (which was made in 2018) stated: ‘Extremism may lead to harmful and illegal activities involving violence, discrimination or terrorism. Examples include illegal actions taken by extremists in religious groups, Far Right factions and animal rights or anti-fracking groups.’

“Disruptive protests are not ‘extremist'”

Kevin Blowe, coordinator of Netpol, responded:

“Surrey County Council has accepted without question the erroneous claim used so often by the police that protests are only “peaceful” if they are also “lawful”. This is simply wrong in law.

“There is no basis to assert any protest that is deliberately disruptive and that may lead to arrests is somehow “extremist”.

“Many of the most positive and significant changes in society have resulted from a willingness of citizens to take part in civil disobedience on conscientious grounds. In any event, protests are always likely to cause some inconvenience and disruption for others but it is well-established that protests that are non-violent – even ones the police call “illegal” – are protected by human rights legislation.

“The council says it has ‘never generalised any group of people as extremists’ but the exact opposite is true: it is planted the idea with everyone who has watched its video that Surrey residents opposed to fracking are intrinsically linked to violence, discrimination or terrorism.

“This shows, yet again, the fundamental danger of using subjective, highly political labels like “extremist” that have no basis in law. It is why we are calling for the police to stop categorising campaigners in this way – and for the abolition of the Prevent Duty that enables councils to smear people for their legitimate beliefs.”

“Police job is o be impartial”

A spokesperson for Surrey Police said:

Surrey Police respects people’s right to peacefully protest and we seek to facilitate this, whilst we stress of course the need for us to balance the sometimes conflicting rights of different people, and the need for us to take proportionate action in relation to criminal offences.

Policing protests is a complex area that is often highly emotionally charged and sensitive, with different people having potentially mixed and conflicting views. Our overall priority is public safety, and police must be able to respond quickly to changing situations in a way that is intelligence-led, proportionate, transparent and ensures the rights of all parties are protected.

It is crucial that police engage with protest organisers so that we can protect the wider public as well as the rights of the protestors themselves. We do not engage on either side of the debate itself – our job is to keep the peace and remain impartial whilst respecting the human rights of all parties.

Updated 10/10/19 with a statement from Surrey Police, Surrey County Council and a response from Netpol

20 replies »

  1. Extremely bad map reading regarding anti fracking, with regard to Surrey!! Extremely confused.

    Seems that excitement is difficult to achieve if one is honest.

    • Extremely vague post from Mr Collyer – one again assuming that everyone knows what he means. Extremely confused.
      May I respectfully ask: to what does ‘extremely bad map reading’ refer?
      Many thanks.

  2. Please give it a rest Martin, you are becoming even more boring than normal. As Angus recently admitted at Brockham, Kimmeridge oil is not commercially viable without fracking and UKOG also suggested the same at Broadford Bridge when they said after more than a year of failed attempts that it would need stimulation which is currently outside of their planning permission. Only a fool would believe that fracking will not be on the agenda at some stage.

  3. Oh dear. We now have those who can not understand blaming others for being unable to understand! Even Jono understood.

    While we have Jono avoiding to mention that the Kimmeridge oil is already flowing away merrily at HH! Not unusual Jono, there is a trend within your posts that you avoid what is in the public domain and assume others are unaware. Yes, it would be strange if there were not sites within the Weald where oil will not flow and that at other sites it will. Perhaps you could suggest how this is any different to just about any oil deposits anywhere?

    So, no, I will not give it a rest. There is obviously a need for realism to emerge through the fog generation. I am pleased to provide that. There are enough Mystic Megs and fog generators.

  4. [Edited by moderator]

    See recent RNS from UKOG regarding Kimmeridge, Jono, if you doubt that I supply a nice diet of realism. I think you will also find UKOG have suggested a different future option for BB, some while ago, but I would suspect that the current and planned work will be done at HH first to acquire more certainty before they do that. There’s only so many rigs to go round, and they seem in demand.

  5. [Edited by moderator]

    What is fascinating about the term “extremism” is that the term fits the council accusers far more accurately, not those who object to being railroaded by extremist councils into being forced to submit to private corporations invading their communities and dictating to them that they have no power to object or resist.

    The term is also forbidden by the government and there is a case for a prosecution in law for attempting to denigrate the objectors and mislabel them unlawfully.

    If this was published on social media and the internet, then the accusation and their website would be taken down.

    The council have also contravened their own public service charter and their actions could result in dismissal or fines.

    Now that would be an interesting consequence of their own actions wouldn’t it.

    There you see, keeping to the subject is much more interesting, much better than empty rhetoric and diversion from the subject anytime.

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  6. [Edited by moderator]

    All too late-the BBC have let the public know the reality, so fog generation is too late. May be difficult, but a new tack required. The BBC will have a somewhat more diverse audience than Netpol, although Brighton may be an exception.

    • [Edited by moderator]

      What is remarkable about the accusation of extremist, is that the term is applied to the result of the council’s own actions, it’s like saying that losing control of their car is not the problem, it’s the other car that was peacefully driving the other way in their own lane that is “extremist”?

      So the council and their controlling fossil fuel fools are saying the same thing, that their actions have impinged and will impinge on the health and safety of their own residents, the very people they are supposed to be representing, but when they object to having this out of control behemoth career into their homes, their lives and their chldrens lives, that the council are not to blame for that, even though they set those dangerous wheels in action.

      But they then say to those whose lives they are endangering, that those people who object are extremists!!

      That, like all the other fossil fuel generated myths, is insanity, we see that all the time now. That the plastics producers, such as the Ineos Grangemout plastics producers are not to blame for mass manufacturing vast amounts of plastic beads for single use plastics.

      But Ineos say it is the people’s fault for attempting to dispose of the vast amounts of waste that they have no choice but to buy with it all ready wrapped around the products.

      More hypocrisy, stop making the stuff and make the polluter pay, that is the answer.

      And that is the same argument about all these anti anti cries of protesters using the very products that they object to. All that shows is that all that people have left to rely on are the very products that the fossil fuel industry have made damn sure for the last 100 or more years are the only ones available for anyone to use.

      The fossil fuel monopolies have made damn sure that any alternatives have been sidelined, squashed or downright censored out of existence. Even now they are desperately backtracking trying to continue their insane oiligarchies and trying to lock us into many many more decades of the polluting traps of their own making.

      So the use of those materials and fossil fuels is assured, in which case that is a very good indication of just how far the fog has gone, and how far we will need to go to get out of these monopolised traps.

      The use of such materials is therefore an entirely clear and magnificently ironic indication that the monopolies on energy and materials must stop, and no more extraction or exploration is a necessary imperative. Only then can we move on and provide our future generations with a sane and intelligent future.

      Dear me, a rational discussion about the reality of blame and plastics?

      That will never do will it?

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  7. ‘There’s only so many rigs to go round, and they seem in demand’

    A quick look at what PR Marriot drillers had to say recently,

    “So far the burdensome regulatory regime makes exploiting gas from shale unattractive, which together with the failure of both industry and government to present a strong PR case, may prohibit significant exploration and development due to high cost, even if exploration is shown to be feasible”

    With the statement by the company that 85% of their trading is likely to come from international projects in the next year or so It would seem that the ‘demand’ is not from the UK.

  8. It might “seem” that way John to those who have not been checking who could be drilling on shore UK shortly. I would suspect there are quite a few on DoD, and not, who have been observing what there is to observe.

    But I think you became bogged down in shale and gas! Your geography seems equally poor.

    Meanwhile, foggy types out vast volumes upon his plastic keyboard and moans about those who provided the material and states “stop making the stuff”!! Self control is an option to all, like not buying a 3 litre BMW diesel, but it seems “do as I say, not as I do” is all okay to excite a few.

    “A sane and rational discussion” ?? No. Hypocrisy?? Yes.

    Just noticed that Dyson has scrapped his electric car project because whilst he could produce a great product it was not commercially viable!! Think you might find Nice Sir Jim may be about to produce a vehicle that people actually want to buy. If he does, then maybe we will see it helping to rescue those suffering the consequences of natural disasters when all that electric infrastructure has been trashed, and he can continue with his philanthropy via the proceeds.

    (By the way, Phileas, sorry you will have missed the great recent film/documentary about Leonard Cohen on TV. Now, there was a poet.)

    • [Edited by moderator]

      One thing more to say about extremists by the way, look at the so called “contributions” from the anti antis on this post that refuse to refer to the subject, but instead desperately attempt to insult and divert and spout nonsense and see for yourself, the word extreme certainly applies in its correct context right there doesn’t it.

      Hey Ho,

      Concerning the strange repetition of the mention of Leonard Cohen, which seems to another favourite empty meme fom that direction. Leonard Cohen would have been only too familiar with such a vindictive irrational response as you see here from the anti anti protagonists.

      He wrote about them in his poem “The Future” and it very clearly describes what we see here, and he fought against that and wrote about it all his life.

      And since there seems to be an avid fan, though perhaps Leonard would wish to distance himself from that one, here is that very poem, also a song. Which seems highly appropriate in this day and age doesn’t it.

      Leonard Cohen
      “The Future”

      Give me back my broken night
      my mirrored room, my secret life
      it’s lonely here,
      there’s no one left to torture

      Give me absolute control
      over every living soul
      And lie beside me, baby,
      that’s an order!

      Give me crack and anal sex
      Take the only tree that’s left
      and stuff it up the hole
      in your culture

      Give me back the Berlin wall
      give me Stalin and St Paul
      I’ve seen the future, brother:
      it is murder.

      Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
      Won’t be nothing
      Nothing you can measure anymore
      The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
      has crossed the threshold
      and it has overturned
      the order of the soul

      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant
      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant
      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant

      You don’t know me from the wind
      you never will, you never did
      I’m the little jew
      who wrote the Bible

      I’ve seen the nations rise and fall
      I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
      but love’s the only engine of survival

      Your servant here, he has been told
      to say it clear, to say it cold:
      It’s over, baby it ain’t going
      any further

      And now the wheels of heaven stop
      you feel the devil’s riding crop
      Get ready for the future:
      it is murder

      Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
      Won’t be nothing
      Nothing you can measure anymore
      The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
      has crossed the threshold
      and it has overturned
      the order of the soul

      There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
      western code

      Your private life will suddenly explode

      There’ll be phantoms
      There’ll be fires on the road
      and the white man dancing

      You’ll see a woman
      hanging upside down
      her features covered by her fallen gown
      and all the lousy little poets
      coming round
      tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
      and the white man dancin’

      Give me back the Berlin wall
      Give me Stalin and St Paul
      Give me Christ
      or give me Hiroshima
      Destroy another fetus now
      We don’t like children anyhow
      I’ve seen the future, baby:
      it is murder

      Things are going to slide …

      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant
      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant
      When they said REPENT REPENT
      I wonder what they meant

      There, that was chilling wasn’t it, but just take a look around you, and the posts of the anti antis, and maybe those days are far far too close for comfort.

      There is a way out of all that horror, but you won’t find it in just more inertia and recidivist fossil fuel business as usual, not at all in fact.

      Have a great day tomorrow.

      • “Stop making the stuff”!!!

        Seems it only creates addicts-or, alternatively, for those who don’t want to control their addiction.

        Meanwhile my key pad has years more life left, (happy days!) as less is more, is a better policy.

        Perhaps it might be better to identify the attention span of most readers than to churn out endless fog? Except that might just focus upon classics explaining red diesel is red to differentiate it from vegetable oil!

        And, yes, Leonard Cohen wrote some dark poetry and even darker books. He was also prone to more than a bit of substance abuse.

        • Perhaps the only cure for addiction, is cold turkey. A cold plastic turkey…..not to mention a cold oil and gas oven turkey?

          And speaking of cold Turkey, we see that Donald Trump has withdrawn the invading USA forces and allowed Turkey to invade Syria in their place and attack the very people who supported the Americans with their lives.

          And guess which areas are being occupied by the Turkish invaders and were previously occupied by the US forces?

          You guessed it, its the oil fields in Syria.

          Now that is a dangerous addiction to oil.


          Clearly addicts, when excluded from the availability, of their addiction of choice, regardless of what that is, are apparently only too willing to promote invasion, violence, death and destruction on others in order to get their fossil fuel “fix”.

          And then we hear that Saudi Arabia has attacked an Iranian tanker in the gulf in the entirely fictitious (there is that word again) claim that Iran was responsible for the drone attacks on the Saudi oil refinery at Abqaiq. even when the attack was claimed by Yemeni forces, in revenge for the genocide perpetrated by the Saudis in Yemen, and Iran denied any involvement.

          But perhaps addiction knows no truth, recognises no boundaries, and sees no hypocrisy….

          Speaking of which, it is also curious that the name of Leonard Cohen is being bandied about in some bizarre and frankly suspicious way from the usual source, in some weird attempt to make some even more vague point that no one else is remotely interested in, and then claims that Leonard Cohen was a drug addict?

          Which is it to be? Hero or zero? Except that frankly, even if Leonard Cohen did have a drug problem, the result of that far far exceeds in terms of creativity and sheer poetical genius, anything that has ever been produced by the entire gamut of anti anti fossil fuel fools all the way back to when Drill or Drop was first online

          Perhaps if Leonard Cohen did have a drug problem, it is only put into some perspective by the fact that many famous personages used some stimulant or other to reach their creative abilities, going back to tribal shamans and medicine men, and the Delphic Oracle and right up to classical and contemporary artists.

          Personally i never needed it, life love and family and the future of my grandchildren and all future generations is all the stimulation i have ever needed or wanted.

          Hmm, was that the intention of this Leonard Cohen diversion? To make some derogatory drug connection? It would figure, judging by past performance.

          PS, if this exceeds the less than average anti anti attention span, then i am surprised it got through Jules Verne’s “Around The World In Eighty Days” or perhaps it was just the movie trailer?

          Never mind.

  9. So an anti fox hunting protest camp turns up at horse hill , closes the road for hours, threatening people, forcing gates open, …
    Sounds extreme to me

        • Bizarre!

          Dear me. What a display? Accusatory, pejorative, and not appropriate or acceptable as is always from that direction.

          So lets have a look at the word itself shall we? Its always better to look at the origin of words that are used in such a rabid manner, just to see what they really mean, and not how they are used colloquially, particularly in the weaponised media we see everywhere at present, and more than often often quite wrongly in its context.



          early – 15th century., “outermost, farthest;” also “utter, total, in greatest degree” (opposed to moderate), from Old French extreme – 13th century, from the Latin “extremus” meaning “outermost, utmost, farthest, last; the last part; extremity, boundary; highest or greatest degree,” superlative of “exterus” (see exterior). In English as in Latin, not always felt as a superlative, hence more extreme, most extreme (which were condemned by Johnson). Extreme unction preserves the otherwise extinct sense of “last, latest” – 15th century.”

          1540s, “utmost point of a thing,” from extreme (adjective.); originally “of the end of life”, compare to the Latin “in extremis” in reference to the “last stages of life”. Phrase in the extreme “in an extreme degree” attested from circa 1600. Hence extremes “extremities, opposite ends of anything” (1550s); also “extreme measures” (1709).”

          Whereas the root of the word “extreme” derives from the Latin “exterus” (see exterior)

          early 15th century, from Middle French “externe” or directly from Latin “externus” “outside, outward” (from “exterus”; see exterior) This version won out over exterial. Related: Externally.”

          1520’s, from Latin exterior “outward, outer, exterior,” comparative of exterus “on the outside, outward, outer, of another country, foreign,” itself a comparative of “ex” “out of”. As a noun, “outer surface or aspect” from 1590s.”

          So “extreme” actually literally means either “the end of life”, or if in its “exterior” meaning, “outer surface or aspect, on the outside, outward, outer, of another country, foreign” from the Latin “in extremis” in reference to the “last stages of life”. So “extremist” refers to one who is either at the end of life, or one who is outer or outside. The word in its pejorative and incorrect use is however intended to attribute some sort of terrorist accusation from the accuser. That is of course not the real meaning at all, but as we see, that is how it is used by those who only mean to weaponise a word to attempt to inflict harm or damage. A common practice amongst those who have no understanding of what words they use.

          Now you could quite accurately attribute the word “extreme” to the present industrial greed and insanity and the irresponsible attack on all life on planet Earth. If we don’t quickly grow up and become adult and treat the Earth responsibly for once.

          Our future children, like those referred to in the video provided, should we be fortunate enough to have any children in the future that is, would most assuredly attribute the present fossil fuel and political insanity as “extreme” in its correct meanings of the word.

          It appears that many children and adults that are all ready saying that very thing, and looking at those who post the sort of remarks that we see above, i see no reason to disagree with the children and the adults in the slightest, indeed i peacefully marched with them on the 20th September.

          However, if i was moved to answer such a rabid and accusatory “question”, which i am not, the best way to put that is:

          Yes, and No.

          Most certainly not in the purposely pejorative use of the word we see above, however, if it means opposing the present insane greed and insanity that is causing the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history, which could spell “the end of life” then yes, most assuredly i would be “on the outside, outward, outer, of another country, foreign,” to such an insanely suicidal activity.

          Regarding the protagonists who support fossil fuel monopolies and plastics over production for profit that is choking the entire planet, and the insane effects of the sixth extinction of life on planet Earth. I am most certainly “on the outside, outward, outer, of another country, foreign,” to any involvement or support of the ignorant greed and insanity that is so rapidly destroying planet Earth.

          As a father and a grandfather, i would protect my family, and everyone else’s family from the literal pejorative “extremists” view that they can destroy the ecology and plunged planet Earth into the sixth worst extinction event since the end of the Cretaceous out of ignorance and stupidity. It is their “extremist” activities, meaning “of the end of life” and i am “on the outside, outward, outer, of another country, foreign,” to that insanity.

          However, as i said, i am not moved to answer that rabid screaming “contribution” as we see above. It will have to sort out that itself.

          To everyone else however, the above is just a clarification of the word for your interest.

          Have a great Sunday with family and friends. I will be going to my grand daughters Christening.

          Like the babies that were being nursed in the XR protests in the video i posted. Nothing extreme about that at all. Except perhaps in the eyes and minds of those who see nothing but extremism in others, but fail to see it so plainly exhibited in themselves. Splinters and planks isnt it.

          Twas ever thus.

      • quelle surprise!!!

        Hue and cry is a common Law process where bystanders are summoned to help apprehend a criminal…

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