Saturday, 31 August 2013
I've come late to the anti-fracking protest. At first I didn't realise how dangerous the process was. I assumed natural gas just popped out of the ground when tapped, safely and quietly. Then I read about it and watched Gas Land, which makes for scary viewing.
Yesterday I went to the village of Balcombe and the first fracking site in Sussex, with my sister-in-law Jo. There were policemen and police vehicles everywhere and officers from three counties. There was even a police car blocking the road to the site. I thought at first there'd been an accident, but a villager told us that the police habitually blocked the road to keep motorists away from the protest.
I'd read in the press that the village was fed up with the protesters, but the villagers we met were all smiles, one even thanked us for coming to show our support, and many of the houses were displaying anti-fracking posters and yellow protest ribbons.
We walked down to the site entrance. Tents lined the side of the road and Jo took some photographs, which I've stolen.
We reached the site entrance shortly before a water tanker arrived. Police guarded the gates,
while we walked back along the road to join the slow march in front of the tanker. There were police all around us and a couple of officers filmed the march.
It was a frightening experience, I've never seen so many policemen, but I'm going back at 2pm tomorrow for the next big event, Belt It Out at Balcombe.
There's an official protest website, The Great Gas Gala, where you can find out about events at the site, as well as the Frack Off and Frack Free Sussex Facebook pages.