There were fewer than 100 protesters left tonight at a potential fracking site as they finally admitted defeat to the police.
More than 1,200 activists had brought exploratory shale gas drilling to a halt on the edge of the village of Balcombe, West Sussex, at the weekend.
But after officers from more than 10 police forces pushed back campaigners from the site’s entrance allowing lorries to enter on Monday, they left in their droves.
Police walk in an arrow formation in front of lorry entering the exploratory drill site in Balcombe
A ‘Reclaim the Power’ camp that had been illegally set up in a farmer’s field two miles away was completely dismantled this afternoon.
Despite tents being camped out on the grass verges, traffic was not stopped and the country road was kept open by the police.
One of the few remaining protesters is Natalie Hynde, daughter of Pretenders singer Chrissie and the Kinks frontman Ray Davies, who was returned after being arrested at the site for a public disorder offence last week.
It comes as energy company Cuadrilla is expected to start its exploratory drilling again soon. Engineers were yesterday again carrying out maintenance work in preparation.
Police escorted a lorry through the protesters on Wednesday as the camp was dismantled
Despite being guarded by 25 police officers, the company has hired a team of security guards with dogs to patrol the barbed wire perimeter fence.
Dave Packham, 37, who is unemployed and from London, was trying to hitch-hike back to the capital. He said: ‘I think it’s all over now. I came down last week but numbers have really dropped.
‘It was fun while it lasted and there was a great atmosphere. This has been like a music festival and people have really pulled together. I think the police are now not going to let us carry on so it’s time to move on.’