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After weeks of protests against 'fracking' and the exploratory drilling for oil in Balcombe Forest, sixty residents from the village have signed a letter disapproving of the demonstrations. Their statement is reproduced below. Heart has been asked not to publish the names and addresses of those who added their signatures.
We, all residents of Balcombe, write to record our strong disapproval of the recent & continuing protests.
We all treasure the magnificent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which we are privileged to live.
In spite of the relentless propaganda issued by a small clique in the village & their strident supporting groups from elsewhere, we do not believe exploratory drilling or properly regulated further exploitation will unduly damage our environment.
Having regard to the outlook for energy prices, energy security, and importance to the National economy we believe that we, in common with other communities, should accept & facilitate this ”new” technology .
We deplore the abuse suffered by employees of the drilling company, & the Police, extended trespass, and the establishment of a semi-permanent “protest camp” on hitherto beautiful road verges; actions which add up to an abuse of the undoubted right to peaceful protest.
We acknowledge the exemplary service provided by the police at the protest site and in the village but we respectfully question the decision to advise the drillers to suspend operations for over a week thus allowing a self appointed group to dictate to a legitimate business.
The priorities now must be to ensure work can resume and that roads are kept open to site & general traffic.
Let other communities be warned that our hitherto friendly village has suffered not only from the protesting crowds but prior to that from the intemperance of self-appointed “ activists”, unfair abuse of our Parish Council, politicisation of the village fete, unsightly banners and, above all, spreading of unwarranted fear.
To encourage a more reasoned attitude to this & future drilling operations we ask Government, Local Authorities & the Industry to provide clear and easily understood information on the rationale for developing a British shale oil & gas industry.
60 Residents of Balcombe. (names & addresses supplied)