Police thanks over peaceful protest at Balcombe Cuadrilla site

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Police have issued a statement thanking protesters at Balcombe after a march and gathering at the Cuadrilla drilling site passed without incident.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: “Our officers, including colleagues from a number of other forces, have told me that the afternoon has had a carnival atmosphere and we have been able to facilitate around a thousand protesters.

“I am pleased that our policing operation has continued in a very similar vein to the last three weeks and in spite of the increased numbers we have only made three arrests this weekend. Two of those were for offences that occurred last week and the other one was for trespass on the railway at Balcombe Station. This was a singularly stupid thing to do, not only endangering themselves on the electrified third rail, but also the travelling public on fast-moving trains.

“However, these were isolated incidents away from today’s main event and I should like to thank everyone who has taken part in the march this afternoon. They have shown that upwards of a thousand people can make their point passionately, but peacefully and I sincerely hope that it has set the tone for the next few days. I know that Balcombe residents are very keen for the protest to remain peaceful and I’m sure that they will share our satisfaction.”

Sixty officers were deployed to accompany the march, which concluded with a human chain of protesters forming around the drilling site. However, no attempt was made to enter the site and police say they were happy to allow the protest to take place.

Supt Hobbs continued: “Our priority remains the safety of everyone taking part and others in the area. The way in which we have policed the protest over the last three weeks has been generally well-received and we have been complimented on this by many of those who have been there throughout this period and people who have attended today’s protest.”

There have been 48 arrests since July 25 and 34 people have been charged as a result. Three were arrested this weekend.

A woman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and was being taken into custody this (Sunday) evening.