Brighton MP goes head to head on fracking with David Cameron

Posted On 26 Aug 2013 at 1:28 am

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has gone head to head with the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron in a national newspaper.

The Independent environment correspondent Tom Bawden compared their words on some of the key questions in the fracking debate on Friday (23 August).

Dr Lucas was arrested earlier in the week (Monday 19 August) during a protest about fracking at the energy company Cuadrilla’s test site in Balcombe.

She was quoted at length in the Independent the next day (Tuesday 20 August) setting out her position.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

She was one of many people from Brighton and Hove to attend the protests in Balcombe, including a number of her Green Party colleagues.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 27 August) she is due to learn whether she will be charged with a public order offence and tried in court.

Sussex Police has arrested 80 people since the protests began at the end of July – more than a dozen of them from Brighton and Hove.

The force said that the cost of policing the anti-fracking protests has reached £2.3 million and were forecast to rise to about £3.7 million.

Sussex police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne said that she was asking the Home Office for financial help towards the cost.

And she said that she would ask the Chief Constable Martin Richards about the way that the protests were policed at an accountability meeting on Friday 6 September.

The meeting is due to be webcast live.

She said: “It is important that taxpayers are kept updated on the ongoing costs of this policing operation.

Katy Bourne

Katy Bourne

“The increased involvement of national protest groups has meant that Sussex Police has had to deploy significant additional resources, including mutual aid from other police forces and this has put a strain on the police budget.

“Sussex Police is policing what I believe is a national issue. What happens in Sussex may determine what will happen nationally across police force areas in the future.

“I have now spoken and written to the Policing Minister confirming that I will be applying to the Home Office for funding to meet the additional costs of this policing operation, once the final figures are known.

“We anticipate that the final cost of this operation will be approximately £3.7 million.

“I have been aware this would be a long-running operation and, while the force has scaled back its resources since Wednesday (21 August), they still expect to need a presence at the site for a number of weeks.

“My chief finance officer is already in discussion with the resourcing unit at the Home Office to determine what information they will need in order to facilitate our application.

“It is also my role as PCC to hold the chief constable to account on behalf of the public, so it is important that I address the issues and concerns raised by people during the policing of this protest.

“I will be holding an accountability meeting with the chief constable on Friday 6 September which will be webcast live and will provide the public with an opportunity to have their questions answered.”

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