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Four Brighton protesters charged over Balcombe fracking protest

Two Brighton women, a man and a teenage boy have been charged after joining the protests against fracking in Balcombe.

They are among the 12 people charged of the 16 who were arrested on Friday (26 July). Six more people were arrested yesterday (Saturday 27 July), Sussex Police said.

Samantha Duncan, 29, of Beaconsfield Villas, Brighton, and Nancy Walker, 25, of Over Street, Brighton, were charged under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act.

Richard Millar, 29, of Upper Gloucester Road, Brighton, was charged with breaking the same law.

They are accused of trying to stop drivers and other workers from reaching the site where they were supposed to be working.

All three are due to appear before Crawley magistrates on Wednesday 14 August.

A 17-year-old unemployed boy from Brighton has also been charged under the same act and is due to appear before Crawley Youth Court on Tuesday 6 August.

Superintendent Steve Whitton said: “I have officers at the site to ensure people can demonstrate peacefully and help facilitate the rights of those to go about their lawful business.

“This means allowing workers to access the site.

“We are trying to carefully balance the needs of everyone and we will continue to show a proportionate response to the challenge we are facing.

“Our aim at Balcombe is to provide a safe and secure environment for protesters, residents and the contractors alike, to minimise disproportionate disruption to the local community and to prevent crime and disorder.

“Protesters are being asked to clear entrances to allow access to the site and where they have refused following repeated requests we have arrested them.”

The protesters are trying to prevent test drilling at the site by Cuadrilla which has used hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – to extract shale gas elsewhere.

The technique is water intensive, has been blamed for groundwater pollution and also for minor earthquakes.

Although Cuadrilla has said that the geology of the Balcombe site is different – it is predominantly limestone – the protesters have a number of concerns.

They are worried that the company will want to start commercial drilling at the site and potentially pollute water supplies or damage the London to Brighton railway line.

They also say that domestic customers have suffered water shortages in the area without a commercial operation potentially exacerbating the problem.

The protests are expected to continue in the coming days.

 

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