Balcombe one year on – timeline

July 2013

Cuadrilla says its rig will be delivered to Balcombe from 23rd July.

The Environment Agency grants Cuadrilla a mining waste permit for Balcombe on 24th July.

At 12 noon on 25th July, the Department of Energy and Climate Change announces Cuadrilla has drilling consent. About 100 campaigners blockade the site and prevent vehicles entering. Cables are cut on a lorry delivering drilling equipment.

On 26th July, about 60 protestors gather at the site. 16 are arrested, 11 under Section 241 of the Trade Union Labour Relations Act.

Sussex Police defend the use of pressure point arrests after criticism of “excessive force” by Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East.

August 2013

The No Dash for Gas Camp is held in a field between Balcombe and Cuckfield from 16th-20th August. Cuadrilla announces it will reduce work during the period of the camp. Around 2,000 people attend March on 18th August, double the expected number.

Sussex Police say 29 people were arrested outside Cuadrilla’s site in Balcombe on August 19th, including the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

Lawyers successfully challenge police bail conditions, which imposed an exclusion zone around the site on people arrested at the protests.

Belt it out @ Balcombe event sings the Balcombe anthem, a rewritten version of Jerusalem, outside the site

The Independent and Private Eye reveal that Balcombe Parish Council made no objection to Cuadrilla’s original planning application in 2010, without consulting the village. The council admits it did not appreciate the full implications of the application.

An opinion poll of Balcombe residents shows 85% are against fracking.

September 2013

Cuadrilla’s planning permission for Balcombe expires. The rig leaves, the drilling site is cleared and policing is scaled down. Sussex Police confirms 125 people have been arrested since the protest began 65 days ago on July 25th. Cuadrilla announces it has found hydrocarbons at Balcombe.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is charged with two offences following her arrest at Balcombe on August 19th

West Sussex County Council fails in its attempt in the High Court to get an order to evict campaigners from the roadside

West Sussex County Council says it has received complaints about noise from the drilling rig, despite changes made by the company to reduce the impact of its work and comply with its planning permission.

Cuadrilla announces it is submitting a new planning application to cover the testing of a horizontal exploration well at Balcombe. The company says the new application will “resolve any legal ambiguity around how the planning boundary should be drawn”

October 2013

Balcombe Parish Council announces a new ballot on oil and gas exploration near the village. It will ask questions on Cuadrilla’s latest planning application and any future applications to explore for oil and gas whether or not they involve fracking.

The Environment Agency runs a meeting for Balcombe residents.

November 2013

Cuadrilla’s chairman, Lord John Browne, says the company will not frack at Balcombe.

The first trial of a Balcombe anti-fracking campaigner collapses after the district judge questioned whether an offence took place.

West Sussex County Council uses bailiffs evict the Balcombe anti-fracking protest camp

Anti-fracking campaigners, including some from Balcombe, pitch tents on the lawn outside the headquarters of West Sussex County Council.

Cuadrilla takes out a new 30-year lease on its site at Balcombe.

Research by Nottingham University into public reaction to shale gas suggests the protests at Balcombe may have influenced public perceptions of fracking nationally.

December 2013

Balcombe residents take a letter to Downing Street calling for an “immediate an binding UK-wide moratorium on shale gas, coal bed methane and underground coal gasification

West Sussex County Council apologises at a public meeting in Balcombe for mistakes it made when Cuadrilla drilled an exploratory well in the summer.

Cuadrilla submits a revised planning application for its site at Balcombe to West Sussex County Council covering flow testing, an enclosed test flare, security fencing and arrangements for site restoration.

January 2014

Cuadrilla tells Balcombe residents no plans to frack at Balcombe “now or in the future” because the target rock is naturally fractured. West Sussex County Council says an Environmental Impact Assessment is not needed for the application.

Sussex Police says total costs of last summer’s demonstrations outside Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe were £3.985 million

Our Freedom of Information Act request reveals that nearly half the legal cases arising from the Balcombe protests have been dropped by police or prosecutors.

11 people charged with obstructing the highway at Balcombe anti-fracking protest are acquitted

February 2014

Nottingham University research suggests support for fracking is continuing to fall and opposition growing since the Balcombe protests

A freedom of information request to the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirms Cuadrilla did no seismic surveys at Balcombe.

Balcombe Parish Council announces the results of the local poll on attitudes to fracking. A majority say the council should reject Cuadrilla’s current planning application and any future applications, whether or not they involve fracking.

March 2014

The REPOWER co-operative in Balcombe announces it aims to raise £300,000 for six solar arrays on roofs in the village that would supply 7.5% of electricity demand.

Balcombe Parish Council confirms it will object to Cuadrilla’s latest planning application to flow test its exploratory oil well. Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association submits its objection.

April 2014

Cuadrilla receives planning permission from West Sussex County Council to test its oil exploration well. The Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association vows to fight on and starts proceedings for a judicial review of the decision.

Caroline Lucas MP, Sheila Menon, Ruth Potts, Ruth Jarman, and Josef Dobraszczyk are acquitted of obstructing the highway and a public order offence arising from the Balcombe anti-fracking protests.

More than 70% of the charges that went to trial following the Balcombe anti-fracking protests have resulted in acquittals or were dropped during the court case.

May 2014

Ecotricity funds Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association in its bid for a judicial review.

The latest survey by Nottingham University on attitudes to fracking shows the “Balcombe effect” is continuing as support falls to below 50%.

June 2014

Our FOI request for a review of policing at the Balcombe protests shows Sussex Police used covert intelligence gathering. The review also concluded the force was caught off-guard. Sussex Police says the review will help with further demonstrations.

Cuadrilla says work to test the Balcombe well is unlikely this year.

July 2014

Cuadrilla confirms that a letter which came to light during the protest court cases is genuine. It dates from 2011 and states that a subsidiary company intended to frack in the Weald Basin. A statement from Cuadrilla repeats that fracking is not required at Balcombe.

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