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Balcombe Villagers Say They Are Pro-Fracking

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The Daily Telegraph

Some villagers whose community has been at the centre of anti-fracking protests have said Britain’s shale gas and oil reserves should be exploited.

Sixty residents in Balcombe, West Sussex, have put their name to a letter in support of fracking and criticised the anti-fracking campaigners who continue to mount daily protests in a camp on the outskirts of Balcombe.

The villagers believe that despite the “relentless propaganda”, exploratory drilling or properly-regulated exploitation will not “unduly damage” the environment.

Their letter states: “Having regard to the outlook for energy prices, energy security, and importance to the national economy, we believe that we, in common with other communities, should accept and facilitate this ‘new’ technology.”

Anti-fracking campaigners who have disrupted the exploratory oil drilling operation by energy firm Cuadrilla were criticised.

“We deplore the abuse suffered by employees of the drilling company, and the police, extended trespass, and the establishment of a semi-permanent ‘protest camp’ on hitherto beautiful road verges, actions which add up to an abuse of the undoubted right to peaceful protest,” the villagers said.

In their letter, they questioned the decision to advise Cuadrilla to suspend its operations temporarily amid concerns of unrest between police and activists during the six-day Reclaim the Power camp earlier this month.

The letter stated: “We acknowledge the exemplary service provided by the police at the protest site and in the village but we respectfully question the decision to advise the drillers to suspend operations for over a week, thus allowing a self-appointed group to dictate to a legitimate business.”

It added: “Let other communities be warned that our hitherto friendly village has suffered not only from the protesting crowds but prior to that from the intemperance of self-appointed ‘activists’, unfair abuse of our parish council, politicisation of the village fete, unsightly banners and, above all, spreading of unwarranted fear.”

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