The coalition of climate, anti-austerity and fuel poverty activists who were planning on returning to West Burton power station for the Reclaim The Power action camp [1] in August have decided to switch location to Balcombe, where the Sussex community is currently resisting exploratory drilling by Cuadrilla.

The decision was made after a meeting of climate and economic justice activists from all over the country on Sunday weighed up the pros and cons of how to respond to a call for support from Balcombe residents. Hundreds had pledged to take action against EDF’s Gas and Coal power station in Nottinghamshire, which was shut down last year by 21 activists in the longest power station protest ever seen in the UK. [2]

For the last two weeks, a coalition of local community members and climate activists, including the national anti-fracking campaign network Frack Off [3] have been obstructing exploratory drilling at the Balcombe site in Sussex. People have super-glued themselves to the gates leading on to the site, and locked themselves into a vintage fire engine which blocked the road leading on to the fracking site last week.

The Reclaim the Power camp – now taking place in Balcombe from August 16-21 – will bring together a wide range of groups and individuals from across environmental, economic and social justice networks to discuss ideas, strengthen links, and share skills in direct action and civil disobedience to take action against the Cuadrilla site. Participating groups include UKUncut, Occupy, Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners Association and Fuel Poverty Action.

Reclaim The Power organisers have been participating in blockades and staying at the camp since the beginning of protests in the village against Caudrilla. In a statement they explained why they had decided to shift focus on to Balcombe:

“We are responding to the call for support from the community in Balcombe opposing fracking. We share their serious concerns about the environmental and social impacts of fossil fuel extraction in their area. Balcombe is a test case for rolling out fracking across the country – with drilling concessions planned for 64% of the surface of England alone. if we can stop it in Balcombe, we can stop it elsewhere.

“Fracking is part of the wider dash for gas which includes the construction of up to 40 new Gas fired power stations. This agenda, if allowed to play out, will crash our climate targets, increase fuel poverty and keep our future energy dangerously concentrated in the hands of unaccountable corporations.

“We want democratically controlled, clean energy. The obstacles to achieving this are political not technical. We need to reclaim our power”

Vanessa Vine, founder of Founder of Frack Free Sussex – living four miles from the Balcombe drill site said:

“For two years we’ve tried everything we can think of. We’ve created ultimately futile petitions, inundated social media and taken a UK-wide deputation to Number 10 – with an incisive and inarguable letter calling for an outright ban on unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation in Britain. Cameron could not answer it, because the truths presented were indisputable – so he ignored it.

Cuadrilla have proven themselves to be both dishonest and terrifyingly inept through their operations and behaviour in Lancashire. The Environment Agency received well over 800 detailed objections to their application for a Mining Waste Permit in Balcombe (along with a 9000 signature petition). They issued it regardless. They are not listening and it has become starkly clear that it is anyway simply not possible to regulate this ecocidal industry safely.

85% of Balcombe residents have stated that they do not want fracking.

Reclaim the Power are a coalition of people of great integrity, who are committed to redressing the imbalance of corporate/governmental manipulation of energy exploitation in this country – with all the dreadful potential ramifications of that which we are now beginning to see unfold.
Between us, the Balcombe and wider communities are making a very impressive delaying dent in Cuadrilla’s designs on our soil, air and water – but it isn’t working quickly enough. They have got their drill bits in the ground.”



No Dash for Gas media team:
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[3] Frack Off is a well-established campaign network of local community organisations resisting fracking in the UK. Their inspirational work has been at the forefront of examining, exposing and confronting Fracking companies in the UK