Brighton and Hove protesters join fracking blockade in Balcombe

Posted On 26 Jul 2013 at 6:32 am

Protesters from Brighton and Hove joined a blockade in Balcombe to keep lorries delivering equipment for fracking company Cuadrilla.

Last week the Environment Agency granted a mining waste permit to Cuadrilla covering the management of waste from a planned exploratory borehole to test for oil and gas reserves.

Opponents fear that the test drilling could lead to Cuadrilla fracking for gas at the site.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, recently announced tax breaks for the controversial practice.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping large quantities of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to extract gas.

Critics say that chemicals such as hydrochloric acid pollute the water supplies and that the practice was responsible for a number of small earthquakes in the Blackpool area.

At Balcombe the potential fracking site is near one of the main reservoirs for Sussex and close to the railway line between London and Brighton.

The practice also uses large quantities of water and critics have cited the recent history of water shortages and hosepipe bans in the area.

Up to 100 protesters took part in the protest yesterday, with a bus load setting off from Brighton first thing.

One of the Cuadrilla lorries had a brake cable cut. This was repaired.

There was a peaceful stand-off with Sussex Police who decided against forcibly moving on the protesters.

No test drilling is permitted before Monday (29 July) and further protests are expected, with Friends of the Earth playing a key part.

Brenda Pollack, regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth South East, said: “Shale gas and oil are not the solution to our energy challenges.

“They threaten local communities, pollute our atmosphere and there’s plenty of evidence they won’t bring down fuel prices.

“It’s time to end the nation’s costly addiction to dirty fossil fuels and build a clean future based on energy efficiency and harnessing the power of the wind, waves and sun.”

Cuadrilla said that its processes were safe and that water supply pollution in America were the result of poor practice.


  1. Concerned Resident Reply

    No surprised to see all the anti-fracking anti-carbon loonies are turning up spreading their false claims. There were no earthquakes in Blackpool. There has been no proven water pollution – but they ignore details like that. They want everyone moving to non-carbon forms of energy, but AFAIK do not have any real, economic, implementable solutions – sounds like a typical “Green” policy.

    I feel sorry for the Balcombe residents who have been frightened about potential, but unproven, dangers of fracking, but probably they are NIMBYs and are more worried about possible devaluation of the value of their properties.

    And WTF is this to do with all the people travelling to Balcombe? Most of those protesting yesterday were apparently not from the area. I don’t care what Greenpeace or FOE think. What do the Balcombe residents actually think?

  2. Groucho Reply

    Sorry Concerned Resident but it is you who are misinformed. There have been many cases of water pollution caused by fracking in the US. Scientists who have evaluated do not generally claim that the cause of pollution is ‘proven’ but rather that fracking is the most likely cause and no alternative explanation is likely. It is true to say that of the many cases where frcking has released methane into water supplies (at levels very significantly above the expected naturally ocurring levels)none have been verified by the US Environment agency but that is because of legislation passed in the US to specifically protect fracking operations from prosecution in gthe event of their polluting drinking water.
    Fracking in Lancs caused seismic tremors or earthquakes. Again what is true is that these tremors were small and would not be likely to cause damage to people or property. The concern that arises from fracking causing earthquakes is that damage to well integrity could occur increasing the likelihood of contamination of water.
    Balcombe residents are in gthe front line now but if Shale gas or shale oil is found to be economically exploitable in the weald you can expect rapid expansion and many thousands of wells in the area. In the US fracking mostly occurs in deserts. The question Sussex people need to ask themselves is security of supply of fossil fuels worth the price of turning the area into a network of well pads with the all of the resulting infrastructure.

  3. Concerned Human Being Reply

    I think calling the concerned individuals who took part yesterday ‘loonies’ is a bit out of place. If you would do some thorough research into the practice you would also see it’s detriments.

    At the VERY least the huge amount of clean water needed for the process; of which 90% is lost & contaminated with pollutants, is enough of a concern for any reasonable individual. This is just one point of many.

    There’s no point getting into an argument over this, but please do thorough research before believing everything the media say. There are already feasible alternative energy solutions which simply aren’t given the emphasis they need. Oil companies don’t want to stop profiting.

  4. Concerned Human Being Reply

    Oh, and as for Balcombe residents view on the matter…

    Balcombe Parish Council Poll –

    Balcombe independent review of the fracking practice –

  5. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Concerned Resident, do you have shares in fracking companies or those they sell product to? Wondering at your note of total desperation and wildly flailing failure to note the last line of the article. Cuadrilla don’t deny these things happen. They put it down to bad practice, which of course THEY would NEVER be guilty of, and THEY would never have an accident would they? No-o-o-o. Sell, sell, sell those fracking shares if you have them and buy into solar.

  6. Concerned Resident Reply

    Groucho – the “pollution” mentioned is the believed leaking of methane into water supplies being taken from wells. The concern is whether the methane is naturally occurring or was leaked from the fracking. Either way, methane is not poisonous and for water taken from reservoirs the methane would naturally dissipate into the atmosphere.

    As you point out there were no earthquakes from fracking – there were some tremors that were identified as likely to have been caused by the fracking but these were of very low size (undetectable without measuring devices) and their size was typical of small movements taking place all the time underground.

    Fracking does not only happen in US deserts – see

    Concerned Human Being – amounts of water required? Yes water is required but not that much – I recommend you read

    “The entire volume of water used, over a projected life span of 10 years at the Cuadrilla Resources’ well in Lancashire UK, is less than half of the water lost through leaking pipes in Manchester in one day.”

    Thanks for the results of the poll and the report – it is very interesting. Reading this it appears there is little risk of leakage of any “pollutants” if all the correct procedures are followed. The dangers of “earthquakes” are shown to be non-existent, so the main concern seems to be noise and light pollution from the drilling.

    Considering Balcombe is very near to the main London-Brighton railway and it is also quite close to Gatwick, how much more noise will the initial test drilling (and longer term any fracking it it did occur) actually cause?

    This leaves, to me, 2 main reasons, why everyone is against fracking: the local NIMBYs who’d prefer this to be done somewhere else; and the eco-activists who are against any development of new carbon based energy sources.

    The issue is whether we in the UK need carbon based energy for the time being; and new sources (solar, wind, tidal, nuclear fission, fusion, and hydrogen) sufficient to provide the countries needs to not exist yet (and I include here fuel for transport such as cars and buses).

    What does Balcombe Parish Council think about the introduction of another runway at Gatwick? If an Airbus 380 were to crash into Ardingly reservoir what would be the effect on water supplies? Should Gatwick be closed immediately just in case?

    And finally, I have been studying the information on the dangers of fracking for some time and do feel quite well informed – I’m not an expert, and I do not have shares in Cuadrilla. I am sceptical of all claims from both sides and like to see pragmatic, logical, scientific reasoning applied.

  7. Me Reply

    I was at the site yesterday and there were many residents of Balcombe present, against the hydraulic fracturing process. One resident made a speech to all present to thank many of us who had traveled from other places to come and support their anti-‘fracking’ campaign.

  8. Concerned Resident Reply

    Valerie – sorry I sent my post before you sent your.

    Please just go back to running “Save Hove” and making sure that nothing changes the character of Hove and nothing new ever happens either. Are “the dangers of fracking” a new NIMBY bandwagon for you to climb on (like you were against any new schools being built in Hove)?

    I humbly suggest that you also look at both the anti-fracking and the pro-fracking material and determine whether there are any real dangers to the environment from fracking – I think you’ll find they are very overstated and made to generate paranoia in the Balcombe residents.

    Then decide whether the real problem is that fracking can provide a new carbon-based energy source that the eco-activists don’t want us to have.

    And yes – I did read the original article – methane in water may count as a “pollutant” in water supplies from wells, but it is not poisonous. If you are really worried about any possible danger to the water supply you need to think about a lot more than just fracking.

  9. Another concerned local resident Reply

    The results from a grass roots survey conducted by the residents of the village are coming in as over 90 per cent of the community wish to declare their roads and village frack free. There is NO SOCIAL LICENCE for this industry in Balcombe. They support non-violent, non negotiable action to stop this destructive industry. Results coming in from Forest Row who are also doing their own community survey are similar.

    Peer reviewed studies from the university of Colorado and Cornell university show implicate fracking in health issues including a raised cancer risk for locals, brain and nervous system damage and mutations of the unborn foetus.

  10. Concerned Resident Reply

    Another concerned local resident – you may have your own, pompous, “non negotiable” view of what should happen in Balcombe but in reality it is up to governments and councils to decide what happens, when and where. You may well protest, peacefully (by cutting brake pipes of lorries, and shouting “shame on you” to police doing their duty!), but if you don’t like the end result then you either have to accept the decision or move on.

    Please could you explain what you mean by “destructive”? Is it any more destructive then the building of the Ardingly reservoir was originally; the building of the London to Brighton railway with tunnels, cuttings and embankments; or the addition of the extra junction of the M23 to cope with all the polluting commuter traffic coming from the local area?

    Why don’t you also declare Balcombe nuclear free and also ban any vehicles powered by diesel as their emissions are known to be carcinogenic. You could also introduce a 10 mph speed limit in the area and ban all private cars from the centre of Balcombe if you are really worried about dangers to the environment.

    I would also query whether the survey performed in Balcombe (and to be run in Forest Row) are truly representative of the entire community, or are just from those who expressed any interest? Did they only get feedback from those that had already been made paranoid by the eco-activists? According to the BBC report, the eco-activists thought it was perfectly okay to get the residents worried if it supported their aims.

    Based upon the BBC programme finding on fracking there were no cases of any proven health issues – would you care to give details of where these peer-reviewed reports can be found, and why you think they seem to have been rejected by the relevant authorities? Just because something is peer-reviewed doesn’t make it valid – it may have been peer-reviewed by eco-activists.

  11. freddie Reply

    “Brighton and Hove protestors join fracking blockade in Balcombe”? What a surprise! The most “green” place in England (allegedly) and they turn up, as usual, unwashed, filthy clothes, dogs, tents, guitars, pan pipes, bubble blowers, cans of lager paid for by the “soche”, just like an average street in Brighton nowadays.

    As for the comment at 07.15 that they “do not have any real, economic, implementable solutions – sounds like a typical “Green” policy.” This is wrong!

    They DO have a solution. Cover the entire planet with wind farms, which “could” produce enough energy for the village of Balcombe.

    And don’t forget you frackoffers -message from the cabbages at HQ on Twitter “Anyone awake, sober and on twitter in Sussex? Late release of arrestees means more transport needed”
    Frackin eejeets!

  12. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Concerned Resident, you have libelled me in 8:39pm comment which shows you up as an uninformed pontificating fool, as well as arrogantly up your own backside.

    I have worked with a developer to persuade BHCC to buy and use a particular site for a school and this is an ongoing effort.

    I have also been highly supportive of major developments you know absolutely nothing about. Why do you feel you have more right to a view on fracking than me? Your crude attempts at superior knowledge on anything in that post was just sad.

  13. Concerned Resident Reply

    Valerie – I used to have great respect for your views and read your postings with interest – however the fact that you have now jumped on the anti-fracking bandwagon alongside the nimbys and eco-activists has stopped all that.

    I did not agree with your views that the BHASVIC site or the Hove Park sites were wrong for school expansion – IMHO they were perfectly good sites with excellent sustainable transport links already in place. I’ll be very interested to see where your preferred site is.

  14. Groucho Reply

    Actually Concerned Resident I said there were earthquakes but they were small. Cuadrilla and the British Geological Society both confirm that these eartyhqwuakes were caused by fracking.
    Methane in sufficient quanitity is a pollutant and there have been peer reviewed studies which show that fracking increases methane levels by around six times the naturally occuring levels.
    However, potential pollution events are not confined to fracking.
    You say that we may need shale oil and gas to plug the gap over the next few years of energy suplpy. Thing is it will take 10 – 20 years for fracking to take off and in that time we need to develop effective renewables, and not lock ourselves in to burning more fossil fuels.
    Yes fracking in the US does not only take place in deserts – I said ‘mostly’. where it has taken place near to dwellings it has frequently caused serious pollution incidents.
    water supply – you quote from Cuardilla’s propaganda. An individual well over a year life span will only use water twice so comparisons over ten years are not comparing like for like. if fracking takes off succesfully enough to provide for energy needs to the extent that is currently being boasted you are likely to see thousands of wells in Sussex. Each frack (usualy two per well) will use around 10,000m3 of water, a ten well drilling pad thus could use 100,000m3, and to develop a field (such as Lancashire or the Weald) of 100 – 200 well pads could use 10 – 20 million m3, spread over 10 years. unlike other water uses up to 80% of the water is lost to the water cycle for good unless and until it seeps into groundwater causing pollution. The returning fluid is hazardous waste.
    Interesting that you suggest that you see through exagerations on both sides of the debate but then make ridiculous statements as regards the efficacy of wind turbines.
    as a concerned resident you should concider whether you feel that the weald can and should take 2-3000 wells with accompanying infrastrucure and whether the environmental cost is worth paying. Perhaps you do but you must respect the increasing numbers who are considering the issues and who are concluding that it is not a price worth paying.

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  16. Me Reply

    Dear concerned resident as u pointed out it is for councils and government to decide such things, and they work for us, they represent our views and democracy says stand up n be heard if the people say no then it’s no… People before profit!

  17. Concerned Resident Reply

    Groucho – sorry – got fed up with the anti-fracking arguments. Those against fracking make the same claims again and again. They also claim that anything that the pro-fracking camp says is a lie driven by “big business”. IMHO, what the anti-frackers need is to get some real, scientific, testable, backing for their arguments, and stop all the emotional stuff.

    Me – you seem to be confused about democracy. To me democracy is locals voting for councillors and MPs to represent your views. These groups of councillors and MPs then decide on what is the best course of action based upon information presented to them.

    If you disagree with a councillor or MP then you can protest (peacefully) or you can take a petition to No. 10, but in the end it is for those elected representatives to decide. If enough people (i.e. a majority) disagree then that elected representative can be replaced at the next election. If you do not agree with them, then you have to, unfortunately, accept the situation.

    Democracy is not about get a large number of eco-activists and z-list celebrities from all over the country to descend on a village in Sussex to take non-peaceful actions against a company that has legal approval to test drill.

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