Fracking: Green party MP Lucas arrested in protest

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas was arrested after taking part in anti-fracking protests.

Protesters glued themselves to the front door of PR firm Bell Pottinger. Picture: PA
Protesters glued themselves to the front door of PR firm Bell Pottinger. Picture: PA

Ms Lucas was among a number of people arrested after staging a protest outside the gates of energy firm Cuadrilla’s drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, as hundreds demonstrated against fracking yesterday.

The arrests came as protesters opposing the controversial process for extracting shale gas blockaded the headquarters of Cuadrilla in Staffordshire, while others superglued themselves to a PR company used by the energy firm.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Yesterday marked the first of two days of “mass civil disobedience” which campaigners have pledged to carry out to highlight their stance against fracking.

Around 20 protesters shut down Cuadrilla’s headquarters by blockading it with their bodies. Two people inside the building had also hung banners from it saying: “Reclaim the power” and “Power to the people”.

A group of around 20 protesters also demonstrated outside the constituency office of Balcombe MP and Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, yesterday morning.

In a statement, Cuadrilla said: “Protesters broke into our

Lichfield office, harassed our staff and chained themselves to filing cabinets. The police are on site dealing with this. We condemn all illegal direct actions against our people and operations.”

The firm’s statement added: “They know that what we are doing is legal, approved and safe, and that shale gas is essential to improve our energy security, heat our homes, and create jobs and growth. Cuadrilla is rightly held accountable for complying with multiple planning and environmental permits and conditions, which we have met and will continue to meet.”

Campaign group No Dash For Gas said six protesters

superglued themselves to the glass door of Bell Pottinger at 8am and deployed reinforced arm tubes to stop anyone else getting inside. Another activist climbed the company’s building and unfurled a banner bearing the words: “Bell Pottinger – fracking liars”.

Protesters say they have obtained a secret recording of a senior PR officer at the firm admitting that the effect fracking will have on people’s energy bills will be “basically insignificant” and said it was playing the recording on a loudspeaker.

Kerry Fenton, who took part in the protest in London, said: “This morning we’re stopping their staff reaching their desks in the hope that, for one day at least, Bell Pottinger won’t be able to mislead the British public about fracking. In truth it’s

polluting, expensive and dangerous.”

A spokesman for Bell Pottinger said the recording being played by No Dash For Gas was not the full one.

Hundreds of campaigners gathered for the protest in Balcombe, with a group of activists including several disabled people blocking the entrance to the site. The road leading to the site was closed, and officers were

effectively kettling protesters into a small space in front of the drilling site.

A spokeswoman for the protesters said they targeted Mr Maude’s office because “he refuses to listen to the concerns of the local people and stand up for their right not to have their country destroyed by fracking”.