Balcombe Protectors Trial: 7th – 9th Jan 2014 “All Acquitted”
Defendants and supporters celebrate outside Brighton Magistrates Court after Balcombe protectors are acquitted on all charges as a result of their courageous actions to defend Sussex from fracking last summer.
Over 120 people were arrested during the 2 month blockade of Cuadrilla’s Balcombe fracking site. More than twenty trials are scheduled over the next few months.
On the Friday 26th July 2013 on the second day of the community blockade of the Cuadrilla Resources fracking site at Balcombe in Sussex more than 100 police moved in and violently arrested 11 people, torturing some with “pain compliance” techniques.
First Rig Occupation Appeal: 8th May 2013
On the 2nd November 2011 the Cuadrilla Resources test drilling site at Banks in Lancashire was occupied by five protesters in an attempt to stop the spread of this destructive method of energy extraction to the British Isles. Subsequently, three of the protesters were charged with aggravated trespass and convicted in Preston Magistrates Court.
On Wednesday 8th May 2013 the appeal against these convictions was heard in Liverpool Crown Court. The appeal as only partially successful with two charges relating to disrupting Cuadrilla’s activities upheld, though a third charge was dropped.
Second Rig Occupation Trial: 4-6th Sept 2012
On the 1st Dec 2011 the Cuadrilla Resources test drilling site at Banks in Lancashire was occupied for the second time in under a month. The trial of three people charged with aggravated trespass following the action starts on Tues 4th September in Preston Magistrates Court.
As the trial of the three Bristol activists in Lancashire is about to begin another threat has emerged much closer to home with another company, UK Methane, threatening to start drilling for Coal Bed Methane in Keynsham near Bristol.
First Rig Occupation Trial: 10-13th July 2012
On the 2nd November 2011 the Cuadrilla Resources test drilling site at Banks in Lancashire was occupied by five protesters in an attempt to stop the spread of this destructive method of energy extraction to the British Isles. Subsequently, three of the protesters were charged with aggravated trespass and bailed out of Lancashire (the two Lancashire residents involved have not been charged).
On Tuesday 10th July 2012 the trial began of three protesters charged and predictably were found guilty after a four day trial in Preston Magistrates Court.
One of the defendants said, “Time and time again extractive industries get away with destroying the environment and people’s lives, while those who stand up to them are criminalised. During this trial we have provided a wide range of evidence of the catastrophic impacts of fracking to the climate, the local environment and to people’s lives.”
The three protesters pleaded not guilty based on grounds of ‘necessity’, asserting that stopping fracking is necessary in the context of run-away climate change and the damage it will cause the environment and local communities. They also challenging the ‘lawfulness’ of this new and damaging extractive process.
The defence was supported by a number of witnesses, both experts (including academics from the UK and US) and from the local community, who testified regarding the consequences of shale gas extraction, both in terms of climate change and more local effects such as water contamination, air pollution, severe health effects, earthquakes etc. The aim of the defence was to totally rebut industry claims that fracking is a harmless ‘environmentally friendly’ way to extract fossil fuels and instead put the industry on trial.