Protesters in Sussex voice their disagreement with the activities of Cuadrilla in a bid to stop an experimental oil drill.
The campaigners’ motivation is twofold – first, they want to stop the company, one of Britain’s fracking pioneers, from further oil exploration in a village of Balcombe, near Lewes, where Cuadrilla plans to start work in the upcoming days.
Second, they want to express their disagreement with the government’s support of fracking in the UK, despite the Balcombe site not being expected to involve any hydraulic fracturing.
In a protest, scheduled to take one day and one night, about 50 campaigners have blocked an entrance to the site and stopped an incoming lorry by dragging stumps and branches in front of the entrance.
"Drilling in the Home Counties brings the threat of fracking geographically and politically closer to Westminster,” said Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East regional campaigner.
"Government plans to give drilling firms tax breaks and a virtual planning carte blanche highlights its determination to push ahead. Ministers must now be prepared for real resistance from their own heartlands,” she said, maintaining shale gas and oil are not the right solution to energy challenges as they threaten local communities and pollute atmosphere.
Cuadrilla, who obtained permission to undertake the exploration work from the West Sussex County Council in 2010, will start assembling the drill rig in Balcome this week.
The company maintained the current exploration is only temporary and if any further activity is to be considered, Cuadrilla would have to apply for new permissions and licenses.
"Although this summer's work will be unobtrusive, we're fully aware that local people will have many questions about our plans and we'll do our best to answer all of them," said Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan.
"During the coming months, we will discuss our plans with residents and they will be able to visit the site to see for themselves what our work involves."
The company has further reassured it has been granted a mining waste permit from the Environment Agency and that all activities will be carried out in accordance with the permit’s requirements.
One of the protesters, Ezra Lynch, who describes himself as a professional clown, has spread himself across the entrance to the site as he warned of the possible ecological harm fracking could cause.
"The outpourings from fracking would harm the ecology in the River Ouse. We have got birds and other animals which could be harmed because their food sources could be wiped out," said the 31-year old activist.