Three Hampshire People Among Demo Arrests

21 August 2013, 06:36

Police say 29 people were arrested - including three people from Hampshire - during an anti-fracking demo in West Sussex.

The arrests - including a man from Southampton, another from Southsea and a woman from Hook - were made as hundreds of people gathered outside the gates of energy firm Cuadrilla's drilling site in Balcombe on Monday 19 August.

Nine people have since been charged.

Sussex Police say 'Ruth Jarman, 50, unemployed of Kiln Gardens in Hartley Wintney, Hook, has been charged with [being a] public assembly participant failing to comply with condition in that she knowingly failed to comply with a condition imposed by a senior police officer under S14 POA and with wilful obstruction of the highway. She was bailed to appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on 4 September.'

A 66-year-old man from Hythe, Southampton, arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway, has been bailed to return on 29 August.

A 29-year-old man from Southsea, arrested on suspicion of a Breach of S14 POA directions to leave order, has been bailed to return on 27 August.

The group, against the controversial process for extracting shale gas, also blockaded the headquarters of Cuadrilla, while others superglued themselves to a PR company used by the energy firm.

The series of protests and direct action marked the first of two days of "mass civil disobedience'' which campaigners have promised to carry out to highlight their stance against fracking.

The majority of the arrests have been for public order offences, including refusing to leave and obstructing a public highway, and breaching the public order act.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (pictured) was also arrested and bailed, and said she was trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come, undermining efforts to tackle climate change and posing risks to the local environment.

"People, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us,'' she said.

"Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the Government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent.

"When the democratic deficit is so enormous, people are left with very little option but to take peaceful, non-violent direct action.''

The MP had been sitting with a crowd of protesters outside the entrance to Cuadrilla's Balcombe site for most of the day when she was marched away by officers and put into a waiting police van. Protesters also claimed that Ms Lucas's son had been arrested.

Sussex Police said protesters had been arrested as officers moved in to clear a large group of people in front of an emergency access to the site.

More than 400 officers have been deployed on the operation at Balcombe, with support from 10 other UK forces.

The energy company temporarily suspended its operation after taking advice from Sussex Police amid fears of unrest during the six-day Reclaim the Power camp, organised by campaigners No Dash For Gas, which began on Friday.

No Dash For Gas said their campaign against Cuadrilla "was not a sprint'' but a "marathon''.

A statement on their website said they were pledging to continue their resistance to fracking and the wider "dash for gas'', in Balcombe and elsewhere around the UK.

Discussions have taken place on 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, a spokesman said.

Although the Reclaim the Power camp will pack up and leave the field they have been occupying about a mile away from the drilling site today, protesters have said the camp set up by the entrance to the Cuadrilla site will stay until the drilling stops.

Meanwhile, ten people will also appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 21 August charged with offences related to anti-fracking protests at the site earlier this month, including a student from Portsmouth.

Tamsin Omond, 28, a market research executive, from London, Ian Freeson, 52, a handyman, from Lewes, East Sussex, Lu Brown, 30, a solicitor, from London, Andrew Tobert, 29, from London, Deborah Grayson, 28, a writer, from Slough, Keyon Bayandor, 25, from Bristol, and Debbie Hodge, 45, from Horley, Surrey, are all charged under Section 241 of the Trade Union Labour Relations Act for attempting to stop drivers and other workers from accessing the site.

Student Kaity Squires, 19, from Portsmouth and Zachay Hewitt, 22, from Bexhill, East Sussex, are both charged with assaulting a police officer.

Timothy Harris, 28, from Crewkerne, Somerset, is charged with assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer.