COUNTY NEWS: Protesters block road to drilling site
Two activists have chained themselves to a 100kg concrete block to prevent vehicles from entering a Sussex drilling site.
Chris Field from Brighton is among the protesters.
He said the protest was designed to prevent UKOG from drilling at the site in Broadfield Bridge, Billingshurst: “We want to make it clear to them from the outset that this isn’t going to be possible because at every turn there are concerned people that are willing to stand up against them. Hopefully they find it isn’t worth the effort to drill in Billingshurst because we will be in the way.”
Exploratory oil drilling at Broadford Bridge has been the focus of various campaigns for many months, but last month site permit holder UK Oil and Gas confirmed work was expected to start ‘shortly’.
Mr Field said police liaison officers were at the scene, and specialists would arrive soon to cut the protesters from the concrete block.
He added: “The message we are trying to send is we are not going to just rely on our vote or our MPs – we are quite happy to put our bodies in the way and tackle it ourselves.
“I just want to highlight the fact that more than anything we are really scared and concerned. We are not doing this because we want to cause disruption to road users travelling past the site and we don’t want to waste police time. We are doing this because we are really concerned and want to take the message directly to UKOG.”
Another participant in today’s action said: “We are at the tipping point. We can’t afford to drill and burn more fossil fuels in the UK whilst meeting our national commitments to not contribute to run-away climate change. We stand in solidarity with anti-fracking groups around the UK as well as anti-fossil fuel movements around the world”.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said officers have been at the site since drilling started to deal with protesters.
This protest comes after a 41-year-old man from Lindfield was arrested on May 25 on suspicion of causing wilful obstruction of the highway and subsequently released under investigation, police said.
A spokesman UK Oil and Gas said: “We support the right to peaceful protest, but this type of anti-social behaviour is an extraordinary waste of precious police resources and is solely aimed at preventing us from going about our lawful business.
“Given recent events in Manchester and London, these people should realise that the police have far more pressing calls on their valuable time and resources.
“We thank Sussex Police for their patience and professionalism.”