Douglas Wragg is a Balcombe resident and member of the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association. He took part in the Sunday afternoon Belt it Out @ Balcombe events where villagers and campaigners sang outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site
The past year
It’s been an amazingly steep learning curve, from knowing absolutely nothing about fracking from the first meeting in the hall in that January and then getting more and more information together.
A plus is having met some quite wonderful people as a result of it, people who were prepared to put their lives on hold for the good of Balcombe.
The other steep learning curve was to see all the avenues of democracy blocked as you went down each one of them.
You went through the democratic process and it all came to nothing.
In my wildest dreams I would never have seen myself taking direct action but when it came to it, I felt quite glad, quite proud about it. When you saw all the people coming down on one of the Sunday afternoons it was absolutely amazing. You felt such enormous gratitude and a sense of pride that we were actually doing something.
We really had two choices: just to lie down and let Cuadrilla walk all over us or to stand up and be counted. And I am very happy to say that I took the latter decision.
This last year has further reinforced – if reinforcement was ever necessary – that the most derogatory word you can apply to anybody is politician.
We’ve seen them in operation and what we’ve seen is not impressive, unless you like subterfuge and double-dealing, then definitely it is high-quality stuff.
When you spoke to the police, one to one, you could see that their sympathies were very much with the protectors.
One of them said to me: “We’ve only made arrests when we’ve had absolutely no option. If we hadn’t made an arrest the press would have been out for a bit of police bashing, you know “police officers in dereliction of duty; protesters allowed to block, and so on.
I felt a lot of them were in sympathy and I think they turned a blind eye to a good many things.