By Dave Sewell
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Anti-fracking protesters to swoop on West Sussex Cuadrilla test site

This article is over 8 years, 9 months old
Issue 2366
Protests in Balcombe are hitting the newspaper headlines
Protests in Balcombe are hitting the newspaper headlines (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Hundreds of protesters from around Britain are set to “swoop” on the village of Balcombe, West Sussex this weekend.

Tory Lord Browne’s gas firm Cuadrilla Resources is drilling to explore if Balcombe can be “fracked” for shale gas.

Fracking consists of blasting vast quantities of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale rocks deep underground to blast out gas and oil.

The technique has been linked to minor earthquakes, water depletion and water contamination.

Water companies have warned that fracking could lead to water shortages in Britain. 

Some Balcombe residents have had their water supplies disrupted since drilling started.

They are concerned this may be linked to Cuadrilla’s activities. 

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla told Socialist Worker they were unaware of any such disruption.

The exploratory drilling uses far less water than the actual fracking which could be down the line.

Cuadrilla is keen to downplay the environmental dangers of fracking, although senior Tories are not always as guarded. 

Energy minister Michael Fallon said fracking would test “how thick their rectory walls are” and “whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive”.

David Cameron has since defended fracking. 

London mayor Boris Johnson has said he will allow it to take place in London.

And the biggest shale in Britain, the Bowland Shale, covers much of the north west of England.

Cuadrilla has only been able to get its equipment into Balcombe thanks to a police presence costing well over £70,000.

Activists camping out on the road to the site have walked in the road to disrupt the lorries’ progress. 

Over 80 people came to a campaign meeting last week.

They included environmental protesters from around Britain and local people, including some Tory voters.

This follows months of opposition from villagers throughout Cuadrilla’s consultation. 

Hundreds protested as the first lorries moved into place two weeks ago.

Now the No Dash for Gas campaign has moved its Reclaim the Power action weekend to Balcombe. 

It plans five days of workshops, discussion and direct action, including a protest march on Sunday.

No Dash For Gas activists previously occupied a chimney at West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire. 

They prompted a high profile legal battle for energy giant EDF.

March for a frack free future, 3pm. Sunday 18 August, Balcombe station 

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