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Anti-fracking protestors Reclaim the Power have targeted Cuadrilla at locations across the UK shutting down their HQ in Lichfield, their PR company in London, and Balcombe drill site. Campaigners condemned violent policing at the gates of the drill site, where police charged, shoved and kettled a group that included children, people in wheelchairs, pensioners, MP Caroline Lucas, and journalists.
Protestor Ewa Jasiewicz, who is at the kettle said: “This an outrageously aggressive response to a day of principled civil disobedience. All of our actions have safety, dignity and respect at their core. Cuadrilla and the government were desperate to discredit fracking opponents. We offered them no aggression so they are creating it themselves.”
Actions began at 8.00am when the central London headquarters of Bell Pottinger, the PR company behind Cuadrilla’s controversial fracking operation in Sussex, were blocked by six activists using superglue and reinforced arm tubes. Another activist climbed the building and unfurled a banner reading: ‘BELL POTTINGER – FRACKING LIARS’. The campaigners used a sound system to play an undercover recording in which a Bell Pottinger spin doctor admits the company’s pro-fracking PR offensive ‘sounds like utter fucking bullshit’.
Kerry Fenton, from Richmond, who superglued herself to the Bell Pottinger headquarters said:
“Bell Pottinger has been responsible for a sustained campaign of corporate misinformation, but they were caught out by a secret recording that shows they don’t even believe their own spin. 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.”
By 9am 20 protestors had shut down Cuadrilla’s headquarters in Lichfield blockading it with their bodies. Three people got inside and held a floor of the building by using d-locks to occupy 8 work stations. The entire floor was cleared of staff.
Debby Petersen, who is taking part in the action, said:
“Cuadrilla have imposed their dirty energy on the community of Balcombe, and so we have brought our camp from Balcombe to their headquarters. We need to reclaim our energy system from the hands of corporations that will frack our countryside, crash our climate targets and send fuel bills through the roof.”
20 minutes later activists placed a wind turbine blade on the roof of the constituency office of Balcombe MP and Cabinet member Francis Maude. Maude was targeted for his pro-fracking views. He appointed Cuadrilla chairman John Browne as an unelected member of the cabinet office in 2010.
At 10.25am five activists, three of whom are disabled, blocked the main gate to Cuadrilla’s drill site at Balcombe using D-locks, superglue and a wheelchair. They were surrounded by another blockading line, and a larger group of activists blocked the surrounding road. The action was organised by Disabled People Against the Cuts.
Meanwhile, a double-decker bus with children from the camp toured the area with the slogan “Don’t frack with our future” emblazoned on the side of the vehicle.
The campaigners encouraged supporters to flood Cuadrilla’s inquiries phone line with calls “letting them know that if they try and frack in our towns we’ll stand up to them”. This is just one day of action taken as part of the growing UK anti-fracking movement.
Andy Greene from Disabled People Against the Cuts said: “We are standing with the community rejecting the government’s energy policy which is devastating many different communities in many different ways. This policy is driving many poor and disabled people into fuel poverty. It punishes them for the mistakes of others and gives the energy companies a free hand on the tiller of public money.”
At yesterday’s march for a Frack Free Future an estimated two thousand people marched to the drill site in Balcombe. Earlier in the week Balcombe resident Douglas Wragg said, “Because we have here a travesty of democracy and we’ve tried every democratic path to use, the only choice we have left is direct action. I’ve been living here for 20 years and I would never have imagined myself being involved in protest. But you either lie down and let Cuadrilla ride roughshod over you, or take direct action.”