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Campaigners at Balcombe promise future action

Following yesterday’s high-profile day of civil disobedience, participants at the Reclaim the Power camp are spending the day preparing for further direct action. They are pledging to continue their resistance to fracking and the wider “dash for gas”, in Balcombe and elsewhere around the UK.

The “What Next?” session being held at the camp this afternoon is discussing how to continue to support the long-term camp at Balcombe and planning future direct action against fossil fuel use and extraction elsewhere in the UK, including at other proposed fracking sites.

Participant Jennifer Lawson said

“This is the first time I’ve taken part in anything like this and I have learned a lot. A mass movement can stop dangerous fuels for good, and the training and practice we did here is groundwork for that movement. Fracking is unnecessary as well as climate-damaging, and renewable energy is the only long-term solution to keeping our homes warm.”

There are over forty local groups in the UK opposing fracking. People from Lancashire, Northumberland, Glasgow, Mid-Wales and others took part in the last two days’ protests and trainings.

Yesterday protestors blocked Cuadrilla’s operations at multiple sites:

– A group from Disabled People Against the Cuts blockaded the entrance to the drill site alongside a large group of up to 300 supporters including families and children. Campaigners condemned the heavy-handed police response and formally complained against tactics including the use of painful pressure points and the covering up of police ID numbers. Around thirty people were arrested, including Caroline Lucas MP.

– At Cuadrilla headquarters in Lichfield 20 activists occupied the entrance and several workstations, and one whole floor was cleared of staff. One person was arrested.

– The offices of Bell Pottinger, Cuadrilla’s PR company, were blockaded by six activists who played a looped undercover recording of a Bell Pottinger spin doctor saying the pro-fracking campaign sounded like “utter fucking bullshit”. The protestors were arrested, held on remand overnight and taken straight to court this morning. Their plea hearing is still ongoing.

– No Dash for Gas supporters swamped Cuadrilla’s phone lines all day, “letting them know that if they try and frack in our towns we’ll stand up to them”

– A dozen protesters left a wind turbine blade on the roof of the constituency office of local pro-fracking MP Francis Maude

– More protesters visited the town house of George Osborne’s father-in-law Lord Howell, and attached a “For Shale” sign to the front.

Protestor Luke Johnson said:

“We had a full day of creative and inspiring direct action. The only sour note was the disgraceful behaviour of the police. They charged, shoved, and used pressure points and other violent arrest tactics on a group of people taking part in a dignified sit-in. They also held protestors on remand overnight and took them straight from cells to court, which is an unprecedented move. Despite this, people at the camp are undeterred. Wherever fracking is attempted, there will be resistance.’