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Balcombe, a tiny village in West Sussex, has become the battle ground of the fracking debate in the UK.
Earlier in the month hundreds of people gathered just outside the normally quiet village, where Cuadrilla has begun to drill exploratory wells in search of oil, in order to protest fracking activities.
Cuadrilla decided to halt drilling activities earlier in the month whilst the protests reached their most boisterous level, disrupting all traffic in and out of the drill site and causing disturbances in the village.
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One activist camp has now disbanded, but around 50 protestors remain at ‘gate camp’, with one person stating that they would remain on site for as long as it takes; presumably until Cuadrilla decide to permanently end all activity at the site.
But now it seems as though the protestors are annoying the residents of Balcombe, and even turning them to the side of the fracking companies.
Banners and signs set up by protestors at Balcombe. (DEMOTIX)
An anonymous letter signed by 60 villagers stated the “strong disapproval of the recent and continuing protests.” They added that they “do not believe exploratory drilling or properly regulated further exploitation will unduly damage our environment.
Having regard to the outlook for energy prices, energy security, and importance to the National economy we believe that we, in common with other communities, should accept & facilitate this ”new” technology.
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We deplore the abuse suffered by employees of the drilling company, & the Police, extended trespass, and the establishment of a semi-permanent “protest camp” on hitherto beautiful road verges; actions which add up to an abuse of the undoubted right to peaceful protest.”
Rodney Jago, a resident of Balcombe and one of the signatories, complained that “it seriously delays people getting to work, and the policing costs are quite ridiculous. Every time a lorry tries to make a delivery, the people come out with their drums.
Surely we should welcome any contribution to self-sufficiency provided it is safe. All new technologies have teething problems. We wouldn't have trains or aeroplanes if we had meetings like this [referring to a public meeting in Balcombe with Cuadrilla in 2012] when they started.”
Vanessa Vine, a resident of a village near to Balcombe and organiser of the Frack Free Sussex group, responded by saying to the Guardian that “if the tiny minority of 60 anonymous Balcombe residents who've issued this astonishingly naive pro-fracking statement had taken the trouble to look at the true relentless propaganda on this issue - or to investigate the enormity of the risks posed both to their AONB [area of outstanding natural beauty] and their personal health by unconventional fossil fuel exploitation, they might be less aerated about 'grass verges' and 'unsightly banners'.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…