Balcombe oil: Glued fracking protesters arrested

Natalie Hynde and Simon "Sitting Bull" Medhurst, glued themselves together during the protest

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Two people who glued their hands together in protest at exploratory drilling for oil near Balcombe in West Sussex have been arrested.

Natalie Hynde, 30, daughter of Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde, and Simon "Sitting Bull" Medhurst, 55, formed a "human lock" by the site gate.

They were freed within a couple of hours and led into police vans.

Protesters fear the works could lead to fracking, the process of extracting shale gas from deep underground.

The protests, which entered a seventh day on Wednesday, have delayed energy firm Cuadrilla's plans to start drilling at the woodland site.

As she carried out her protest, Ms Hynde said: "This is the last bit that they need to start test drilling, so we want to hold them up."

Her boyfriend and veteran eco-campaigner Mr Medhurst, known as "Sitting Bull", said: "Our message is that you are not going to get away with poisoning the ground-water either here or anywhere in the rest of the country."

'We feel bullied'

Sussex Police said the pair were the only people arrested on Wednesday.

A total of 25 campaigners have been arrested since last Friday.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla's chief executive, said earlier that the drilling would not pose a threat to the village of Balcombe.

Jagger: "It is good to have energy independence, but not at the risk of our... beautiful countryside"

"We've no intention of ruining the countryside and we won't ruin the countryside," he said.

Mr Egan said the process would take about a couple of months and involve a six-inch hole in the ground, which he described as "not a major engineering activity".

Campaigners at the site, who also fear the tests will lead to a large increase in the number of lorries in the area, have included human rights activist Bianca Jagger.

Kathryn McWhirter, from the No Fracking in Balcombe Society (NoFiBS), said local residents welcomed the support of protesters from outside the area.

"We in Balcombe feel bullied. Bullied by the oil and gas industry. Bullied by our government.

"We stand strong in the fight against this dangerous and misguided government policy."

Activist Katy Dunne said people from the village had been bringing down cream teas, clean water, tents, and home-cooked meals.

"There has been a constant presence of villagers down here," she added.

Fell to ground

Several lorries went into the site on Wednesday as police officers formed a ring around the front of the vehicles to keep protesters away.

Some campaigners lined the road and turned their backs to symbolise their opposition to fracking.

Many held placards saying "Frack off", "Kill the Drill" and "Frack for Sussex".

After one lorry, campaigners fell to the ground in the middle of the road in unison.

On Tuesday, Supt Lawrence Hobbs of Sussex Police, said the protest had been peaceful, but looked set to continue.

Cuadrilla's chief executive Francis Egan: "People's views can and do change"

"It is clear that this protest looks like it may be going on for some weeks so we are moving from an initial response to preparing resources required from now."

Cuadrilla would need fresh permission from the Environment Agency to carry out shale gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Campaigners fear this would then lead to potential water contamination and environmental damage.

Mr Egan said he accepted the right to protest, but it raised a wider issue about the willingness to exploit the UK's natural resources.

He said: "We have certainly been delayed.

"There are a lot of protesters, we have no issue with peaceful protest in Balcombe, we respect people's rights to do that.

"I think the wider argument is, frankly, is the UK capable of developing its own natural resources or not?"

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