Southsea man arrested at fracking protests

GUARD Police officers at the Fracking protest at Balcombe
GUARD Police officers at the Fracking protest at Balcombe
A Scas ambulance

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A MAN from Southsea was among 29 people arrested yesterday during protests against fracking in West Sussex.

The 29-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

The order gives police the right to arrest a demonstrator where it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community.

It came on a day of high drama as protesters gathered in front of an emergency access to the Cuadrilla drilling site at Balcombe.

Protesters encamped along the roadside were joined by hundreds more from the nearby camp that had been established last Thursday, many locking arms and blocking the road and others gluing themselves together or attaching themselves to fencing and other items.

Officers had earlier removed a number of bicycles that had been locked together and left lying across the road.

It comes as Sussex Police rebutted accusations that it allowed anti-fracking protesters to bring oil drilling to a halt, as up to 1,000 extra people gathered for a climate camp at the weekend.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: ‘Right from the outset, we have been absolutely clear that our priority in this operation is safety – for the general public, for protesters, for Cuadrilla employees and for our own officers and staff.

‘Over the last three weeks our approach has been quite clear in that we will not tolerate any criminal behaviour.

‘By Friday there had been 45 arrests in connection with the protests, with 33 people being charged with a range of offences.’

He added that a further arrest was made in connection with threats made to a local landowner who had asked a group encamped on land very close to the drilling site to leave.’

Regarding the latest arrests, he added: ‘We had been expecting some form of direct action today and we had officers in place ready to deal with it. It has been necessary to close the road, but that has been done a number of times in recent days to ensure that safety of all those who are taking part.

‘As we have said from the very start of this protest operation, we are more than happy to facilitate peaceful protest, but those who are intent on criminal action will be arrested.’

More than 400 officers were deployed in yesterday’s operation with mutual support from 10 other UK forces.