Anti-fracking protesters gather outside West Sussex County Council meeting

JPCT 171014 S14440413x Horsham. Demonstration outside County Hall North Friends of the Earth. Frack Free Zone -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141017-120046001
JPCT 171014 S14440413x Horsham. Demonstration outside County Hall North Friends of the Earth. Frack Free Zone -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141017-120046001

Protesters gathered outside County Hall North in Horsham this morning (October 17), as West Sussex County Council discussed a petition to declare West Sussex a frack free zone.

More than 3500 local people have signed the petition and Pulborough campaigner Martin Dale said it was the biggest one he had ever seen.

JPCT 171014 S14440345x Horsham. Demonstration outside County Hall North Friends of the Earth. Frack Free Zone -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141017-115524001

JPCT 171014 S14440345x Horsham. Demonstration outside County Hall North Friends of the Earth. Frack Free Zone -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141017-115524001

There is currently planning permission, subject to conditions, for several sites in West Sussex including Balcombe, Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst, and Storrington.

“We’re here to stop fracking in its tracks,” said Brenda Pollack, the south east campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

“The company needs to hear the message that Sussex wants them to go away.”

Passionate campaigner Cat Savery from Warnham was representing the group Mothers Against Fracking.

Cat, 38, said: “I’m here for my children, because we borrow the planet from them, because they are our future.”

The mother-of-three described fracked gas as highly toxic, and said it would poison our ecosystem.

Protesters were urging councillors to listen to their constituents, and the growing anti-fracking movement.

Cat added: “This isn’t actually a fracking issue, it’s a civil rights issue.”

The petition also raised fears that fracking is untested in the UK and would ruin parts of the Sussex countryside.

There are further worries that Sussex cannot spare the volumes of water required for fracking, and that fracking could contaminate the water supply.

John Burns from Henfield said: “No water no life.”

The protest follows similar action across Sussex this month and the overwhelming protests in Balcombe last year, which forced drilling company Cuadrilla to abandon their work.

In July, Wisborough Green became the first community in the country to successfully fight off an application by an energy company to explore for oil and gas.

The county council’s planning committee refused an application by Celtique Energie for oil and gas exploration near the village.

The full council meeting is still underway.