Balcombe; Protestor's Block Road

23 September 2013, 14:59 | Updated: 23 September 2013, 18:33

Anti-fracking protesters blocked the road and a woman locked herself to the top of a van as vehicles started leaving an exploratory drilling site.

The van was parked diagonally across the B2036 outside the Cuadrilla site in London Road, Balcombe, at 11am today, blocking both carriageways, Sussex Police said.

Police have warned that there is likely to be disruption this week while the West Sussex site is cleared.

A spokesman said up to 20 vehicle movements a day, which have to be escorted in and out by police to reduce the risk of them being delayed even further by protesters, could be necessary to clear the site.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: "This is once again causing significant disruption to the local community at a time when there are increased vehicle movements as the site is being prepared for closure.

"We will clear the road as soon as we are safely able to do so, but please be aware that your journey may be delayed and you may need to consider an alternative route.

"That said, if you are trying to gain access to the road either side of the protest site, please speak to officers on the road closures and they will do everything they can to facilitate access if they are able to do so.''

Sussex Police have been overseeing the encampment of dozens of activists outside the exploratory oil drilling site and ensuring deliveries make it into the area for the past two months.

More than 100 arrests have been made since July, including that of Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas during two days of "direct action''.

Policing costs have also soared to more than £2.4 million, leading Sussex's police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne to ask the Home Office for financial help.

West Sussex County Council went to London's High Court last week asking for a possession order for the verges where the camp is set up.

But Mrs Justice Lang adjourned the application after describing it as "flawed'', with the result that if the council does not apply to restore it in a new form by October 8, it will be either withdrawn or dismissed.

The council accepted the court's decision but said the camp was unsafe beside a busy rural road with a 60mph speed limit, which is unlit at night.