Over next weekend, from 16th to 21st August, the No Dash for Gas protest group is planning to hold their Reclaim the Power action camp somewhere in Balcombe. As yet the location for the camp has not been disclosed and remains a mystery.
There have been reports in the media and on the group’s website that they will be here in response to a call from Balcombe to protect our interests. I have yet to establish who, if anybody, issued this invitation. It most certainly was not the Parish Council, and the local anti-fracking group, NoFibs, has confirmed it was not them.
For perhaps too long I have been sitting on the fence balancing the opinions in our village and tolerating extreme views, but the time has come to speak up.
Whilst villagers have voted that we oppose any future fracking and whilst having respect for those who wish to protest peacefully, there are three issues that arise from the intentions of the No Dash for Gas group.
- Firstly will the camp itself be a trespass?
- Secondly, and making the first pale into insignificance by comparison, is the promise of direct action on Monday 19th August to stop the drilling by acts of civil disobedience. It is likely that this will include an attempt to enter the site and physically stop the operations, an action that could result in injury to people on either side of the fence and /or to the police.
At a public meeting held last Friday evening the group sought to justify such actions on the grounds that the company that is drilling is acting illegally and that in consequence illegal actions to stop it are justified. This is quite simply not the case. Like it or not, the drilling operation is entirely legal. All the necessary permissions and permits have been sought and are in place.
- Thirdly the group seeks to legitimize such actions by saying that whatever is done is in response to Balcombe residents’ call for help. This is just not true.
So here it is. Balcombe strongly opposes any actions which may be taken which involve civil trespass and/or illegal acts. And I further state this, if the No Dash for Gas group is coming here in the full knowledge that it intends to break the law then it should stay away. It is not wanted in Balcombe! It is duly uninvited.
Balcombe Parish Council