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« Delingpole on shale | Main | A sneak peek at the IPCC report »

Balcombe open thread

It will be interesting to see if things turn nasty in Balcombe this weekend, so I'm going to leave this thread up for anyone who has any news to impart. The weather forecast is not good, which may dampen things down somewhat, but the threat of violence from environmentalists has led to Cuadrilla suspending operations already. The thugs and their apologists in Westminster and the left-wing press have already won a major victory.

The battle over shale gas extraction feels like David Cameron's miner's strike - the threats of violence are the same, the longing to put the UK's lights out is the same, the stakes are just as high.

I'm really not sure that Cameron is up to this though.


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Reader Comments (147)

And the players are the same.
Apart from the rank and file miners who were used as pawns in Scargill's political power plays, the major presence on the picket lines consisted of the committed Trots and the dewy-eyed undergraduates in search of a cause.
These days they call themselves environmentalists but they can call themselves what they like; nobody who watched the Hard Left's attempts to undermine British democracy in the 70s and 80s is going to be fooled.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

It is becoming increasingly evident from the Balcombe debacle that the "hippy" types are actually your well off liberal leaning metrosexuals that live in a bubble of their own. These are in essence Cameron's types of people and certainly SamCams. If he does have the power of his own convictions then it will be a battle within his own social circle. In essence, I believe that this is a sensible move since as with all middle class faux protests, they will eventually have to go to work or their yummy children - school.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

These people are going to need water, bandages, green Rizlas.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

It's not the full version but gives one a taste of the film:

If only renowned climatologist Dame Vivienne Westwood could give us all her expert opinion on it.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Cameron is up to nothing. From the moment the election produced a minority government to the first budget when Osborne said they would be the greenest government in history, these gutless, eaton tossers have been messing things up.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

As Balcome is a non-gas-fracking site: a smart move by Quadrilla and a hospital-pass to the government.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

This camp is being financed by corporations with interests in carbon trading; it is a manifestation of the drive towards fascism by the elite greens, which movement descended from Nazism, using Marxists as willing dupes and cover.

The tactics being used by the elite eugenicist right are BTL and the fake CO2-AGW scare. The apparent aim is to make energy and accommodation so expensive the poor will be herded into cities and left to die.

Someone in these neo-fascists clearly read Harry Harrison's 'Make Room, Make Room' and they have for nearly 40 years tried to make it real by 2020, the future time used in the novella.

Aug 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

This camp is being financed by corporations with interests in carbon trading

Evidence please. And why so many such claims without evidence?

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Pesonally I would put an embargo on flea powder to the Balcombe protestors. When they feel the need for a bath, the protest might subside.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

It would seem that the police are not doing the job the taxpayers fund them to do - ie to allow legal activities to proceed and stop illegal activities. Cuadrilla have been threatened with illegal activities by the useful idiots and the police should be ensuring that Cuadrilla can continue to operate normally within their rights.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Meanwhile the Windmill loving RSPB is showing its colours.

Sod the birds and bats, just stop the warming.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

I heard a representative from the RSPB giving the thumbs down to fracking at Balcombe on the Today Programme this morning. This has also been picked up in the Telegraph

However, this does not stop the RSPB from profiting from wind mills on their bird reserves.

Whilst there may be some disturbance to birds on a site where drilling and fracking may be taking place, unlike wind farms, they do not actively kill wild life.

It is about time the animal charities commissioned a study into the destruction caused by these wind turbines. Surely that is what the people who donate would want?

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert

I do agree with Phillip Bratby in that once again the police are not doing that for which they are handsomely paid. I saw the other week that the police had "come to an agreement" with the protesters, allowing them to harras lorry drivers. Since when were the police allowed to pick and choose who they support? They should be upholding the law and arresting the protesters who unlike Cuadrilla are breaking the criminal law. But again this just mirrors what happened at a Power Station, where criminal damage occurred but nothing was done about it. But if you change lanes on a motorway you can be fined, unlawfully, £100 and have three points for it.
As to the RSPB, their hypocracy is now showing, wind farms kill birds and bats but that is OK, "frack" killing nothing and this fake charity is on the case. It should at least result in the loss of their status as a "charity".

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Roger Harrabin also covered the RSPB's objection to bird-mincing drilling for oil and gas. The RSPB's objection is the third most important item of news this morning, acoording to the BBC.
It's not obvious why the RSPB's opinions on drilling gets any media coverage at all (but we know the answer to that).

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Natalie Bennett (Green Party leader) has been leading the charge at Balcombe with her nonsense talk about energy policies. See her in action in this video I took earlier this year:

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

Call in the Army!

Forgot we havn't got one. That is Cameron's fault as well.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

The RSPB has >1m members. In 2011-12 members' subs were over £32m, income from UK state & EU exceeded £17m. … p.34

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

If Cameron fails to support the majority in this matter, and forcefully eject these awful people, he will lose what little credibility he has so far retained. But I am not holding my breath.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

"RSPB's opinions on drilling"

Discovery of reliable resources will undermine the case for continued subsidy for wind - which RSPB is using as a source of income. They have also recently expanded their brief beyond birds, to "Give Nature a Home"

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterfilbert cobb

I haven't actually seen any of the reporting of is, but protesting against something that isn't even going on at the site seems a bit bonkers...

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

If you work for a living and travel to said work in a van, you are liable to be pulled over at any time for a "multi agency check" where your name is taken and checked for employment, immigration, driving licence etc. status and your vehicle checked for tax, mot and mechanical condition, for as long as the people concerned see fit and regardless of any schedules or appointments you might have.

Why doesn't one of these multi agency teams go to Balcombe and check all the "activists" there in the same way? How can you be "actively looking for work" waving a sign?

Park your campervan or caravan in a layby or spare bit of ground overnight and the police will soon be around to move you on, object and they will find something to "do" you for, but "protestors" can apparently set up camp wherever they like.

Police in Balcombe as usual have taken the easy option and "advised" the innocent party to stop or curtail their legitimate activities rather than tackle the mob because that would be hard work.

Aug 17, 2013 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I know it's easy enough for me sitting over 500 miles away from this problem but given the number of people on this thread objecting — quite rightly — to the actions of police and protesters and the RSPB (on whom I gave up decades ago!) why not do something about it?
Complain to the police; complain to your MP (this has nothing to do with climate change; this is a matter of LAW!); complain to the media loud and long.
Unless I am very much mistaken the overwhelming majority of British people (97% even!) agree with you — regardless of their views on fracking per se.
Email or tweet every MP in sight and get as many people as possible to do the same demanding that the police enforce the law and that people, whether it's Cuadrilla or the residents of Balcombe or anywhere else, be allowed to go about their normal business unhindered by protesters.
The only reason they do this is because they know they can get away with it. A bit of police "over-reaction" (as they insist on calling it) or "law enforcement" to give it its proper name would be quite effective, I'm sure.
I'm equally sure that if parliamentarians really understood that there was strong support for action against this hypocritical and self-publicising (in the case of Westwood and others) behaviour then they might suddenly discover a hitherto unknown reserve of guts.
(Just in passing I might add that one of the reasons why MPs appear to be so gutless is because we have effectively made them that way. All we ever do is criticise them for not doing what we want them to do or for doing what we don't want them to do and since most of the time none of us agree on what it is we want of them it's easier just to do nothing. Just sayin'!)

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Derek Buxton

>the police had "come to an agreement" with the protesters

Which appears to include their not prosecuting them for illegal occupation (the farmer whose field they are using stated that they were not welcome*). You wonder what they have to do to get arrested!

*Although he will doubtless have to clean up after them. I wonder how many of the 'environmentalists' will take their rubbish and waste products home with them?

Rob Burton +1

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Caught a bit of the interview with 'Dame' Vivienne Westwood, as she was about to board a train for Balcombe...
'...We're all going to fry; the ice caps are melting, etc etc...'
If so-called 'celebrities' are so grotesquely misinformed, what chance is there of the truth getting out..?

Also - totally agree with the comments above about the RSPB - aparently there are going to be 'thousands' (really..?) of fracking sites in Lancashire - which comprise a bit of ironmongery sticking up in the air. No flailing arms which actually KILL birds and bats, you understand. But according to their highly vocal spokesman (aren't they all) - migrating ducks and swans will go: 'Woah, lads - bit of ironmongery sticking up a mile from where we usually land. Nope - too dangerous - lets look for some RSPB land with a nice wind turbine on it...'

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Here is the home page for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner ...

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

Complain to or about the UK police, er, no thanks. BTDT, had to change my vehicle so that I could go out without being pulled over for "Just a routine check, sir". That was for a minor disagreement, I wouldn't want to be seriously unpopular with them.

The police consider that it is their prerogative to decide what is or is not illegal and which laws should be enforced or ignored, they don't appreciate members of the public telling them what they should do.

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Is the previous post from General Mike Jackson?

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

Phillip Bratby correctly raises the (most interesting) point that the Police are not doing their job, so someone has decided that the Police are not to get involved in this case at the moment, it's not a spontaneous democratic vote by a few officers but a political decision.

It's difficult to tell whether Cuadrilla are playing a blinder and using Balcombe as a diversion or whether they are actually a bit under the cosh with the failure of the Police. I presume they could put some hefty security personnel there and call the Police at the first sign of trouble, the Police would have to respond.

And I'm so looking forward to the deployment of truncheons, I suppose the wait will be worth it.

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterspence

spence, the police response would be to make absolutely sure that the private security personnel didn't do anything which might possibly be illegal, and the protestors know exactly what is allowed.

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Please please please will everyone on all sides of this squabble stand back and let the shales be drilled and the compositions of the gases be established. As I have said over and over again the compositions of the gases from the US shales are subject to large variations. At worst the UK gases may be unusable in which case the whole problem goes away. At best, the gases will not meet UK sales gas specs (heating values, wobbe number and they may be sour with H2S) and further above ground processing will be necessary. Gas processing is expensive, space consuming and will need all sorts of permits etc. Let's define the problem before we shout ourselves hoarse and have to listen to all the nonsense that is being talked. In my opinion those on the "support" side have failed totally make their case to the public and the media have allowed - encouraged even - the protestors to get all the air time.

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Weatherford's "A Testimony to the Truth about Hydraulic Fracturing" is worth a read:

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

I find it both interesting and kinda annoying that Balcombe has now got both “sides” tacitly agreeing that this is *the* battleground about fracking.

As if it is the class action, or case study.

The disturbance of nice, nimby, middle class, conservative middle englanders, then necessarily gets too muddled with the ideology I think.

I’d be far more interested if it was some bit of waste ground in Blackpool behind a disused bumber car concession that got the same treatment.

I think that would be where the ideology would really got tested. ;)

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The lefty/progressives/etc. rely on mobs to get their way. In Egypt, now in a small way in Balcombe. Think of the execrable Hansen successfully giving climate as an excuse to break the law in the UK a few years ago. The AGW extremists are not after civil society, reason or rational discussion. They are after their own power.

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

I never aspired to anything so exalted but I can't help feeling that he would agree with what I said.
The old adage "for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good men do nothing" applies. In this instance those who are paid to do something on behalf of those of us who don't have the means (ie the police and the government) are the ones who are doing nothing.
Which makes them complicit in the illegal activities that are taking place in Sussex.
Being no longer resident in the UK, action on my part could be criticised as interference and so counter-productive.
What is the excuse of those who understand the threat to democracy posed by these actions and the lily-livered official response but still do nothing?

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Please please please will everyone on all sides of this squabble stand back and let the shales be drilled and the compositions of the gases be established. As I have said over and over again the compositions of the gases from the US shales are subject to large variations.

Vernon. Balcombe is about conventional drilling for oil, not fracking for shale gas. If you are concerned with people talking nonsense and shouting themselves hoarse, you could start with getting your facts straight.

It doesn't matter what the scientific or technical debate is about. It is pure emotion. The "support" side haven't failed to make their case. The "anti" side are immune to logic and have 100% support from the mass media.

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

How it is done:

Sussex Police believe more people will arrive for a six-day camp organised by the No Dash For Gas group... Jamie Kelsey Fry, from No Dash For Gas, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"Your listeners have to ask themselves why are these people taking these risks and putting themselves out? I would suggest it is because they have studied and they know the dangers of hydraulic fracking and this insane dash for gas."

Supt Lawrence Hobbs said...

"A decision has been made by Cuadrilla to suspend drilling operations this weekend.. Given the health and safety risks associated with it being an industrial site if access is gained by trespassers, we believe their decision to be a wise one."

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Neal

During the media coverage I have not seen a single TV journalist ask these people protesting what exactly they are protesting about and then set them right on screen with the FACTS as set out by Matt Ridley's piece at GWPF and the Times. Hence expose their true motives. Did the farmer rent the field or are they illegal squatters ?

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Long, long ago, in the days of the miners strike, police stopped flying pickets and halted drivers, coaches on motorways to prevent striking Yorkshire miners and those from further afield charging down the M1 to picket the working pits in Nottinghamshire.

Now, the police allow lorries to be stopped, advise companies going about their lawful business to 'shut down' because of some sort of nebulous threat from a disparate circus of travelling climate activists.

It seems very much like the police are siding with the green revolt. Indeed, has the West Sussex met been nobbled, or do they side with Gaia and the eco-warriors - could it be said that - does the Brighton effect influence the stars [ACPO] of the West Sussex Met?

Looking at the TV pictures of the demo camp site, on a conveniently flat field, a large marquee has been erected and inside a PA system with stage installed, along with various other 'amenities', beside those just arriving back from 'Glasto' and various flotsam and jetsam. It must be said, who rented the land, who is paying for all of this? Because none of it comes cheap - whose funding those useful field folk, at one and of common purpose.

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Jamie Kelsey Fry
The secondary school teacher who doesn't even know when the Suffragette Movement started and ended.

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The government is being hoist by its own petard in the form of the Climate Change Act. Their target of 80% decarbonisation by 2050 gives people the impression that gas is bad and we don’t really need any more of it. They need to be much more realistic on their targets, given that UK emissions fell by only 0.5% over the last three years. They also need to be much more forceful on the benefits of shale gas.

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brodie

Odd how nobody seems to be concerned about the massive amount of “manual fracking” that has existed in the country for centuries. Thankfully, it is being phased out, but this phasing-out has been accompanied by huge protest by those of similar mentalities who oppose the more modern fracking. Where are the protest camps around the manual fracking sites, demanding their closure? None – but there will be if an attempt is made to close them! Why is the huge environmental impact of manual fracking ignored? What do these protesters have against the poor working man, being sent deep underground to continue manual fracking in dark, dangerous conditions, when there is a far better, safer, less environmentally-damaging process available?

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

A lot of people posting comments on this blog have been very critical of both David Cameron and the police. Those criticisms are extremely unfair. How can any rational person expect the Prime Minister to devote any attention to this country's future energy supplies when he has more important problems to grapple with, such as how on earth to persuade Putin to legalise gay marriage in Russia?

As for the police, they too have far more important matters to deal with such as protecting burglars going about their business in a perfectly peaceful way from being attacked by those they are trying to rob.

Dad and son’s disbelief at arrest for catching burglar

"A FATHER and son spoke of their disgust yesterday after being arrested and dragged through the courts for apprehending an illegal immigrant they caught burgling their business."

Aug 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

BBC R2 news has just reported the Balcombe well is drilling for shale gas.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Looking at the TV pictures of the demo camp site, on a conveniently flat field, a large marquee has been erected and inside a PA system with stage installed, along with various other 'amenities', beside those just arriving back from 'Glasto' and various flotsam and jetsam. It must be said, who rented the land, who is paying for all of this? Because none of it comes cheap - whose funding those useful field folk, at one and of common purpose.
Aug 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM Athelstan.

In today's Mail article, if you scroll down, there's a picture of the provisions tent being stocked up for the arrival of the next wave.

An expensive frame marquee with thousands of pounds worth of provisions ordered in advance.

Suppliers don't deliver this volume of stuff to a field unless they've been paid in advance or are sure they're going to be paid.

Someone needs to investigate who's signing the cheques.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

" - migrating ducks and swans will go: 'Woah, lads - bit of ironmongery sticking up a mile from where we usually land. Nope - too dangerous - lets look for some RSPB land with a nice wind turbine on it...'

Aug 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM | sherlock1"

:-) Had me in stitches.

The ducks and swans won't go near Cuadrilla with all those crowds around .

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvan Chivicjenko

The BBC have come up with a new line to defend their falling for the protestors' line about fracking: Cuadrilla have not ruled out fracking on this site. Never mind that they have no current intention to do so, that the exploratory drilling is not about fracking, or that they have neither asked for nor received regulatory approval to frack; as they have not ruled it out, the BBC can continue to report the protests as anti-fracking without challenge.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Are my figures wrong here?:

About 500,000 wells have been fracked in the USA. From Wiki it appears 3 (three) instances of water pollution have gone to litigation. One has been settled out of court, the other two have been proved to be unlinked to fracking.

Seems the fuss about water contamination - surely the main issue - is hugely exaggerated.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Roy (Aug 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM), it just makes so much sense: arrest the victim. Let’s face it, they are not likely to run away, and if they do, well, you know where they live. Also, if they were not there to be a victim, then no crime can be committed!

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Doesn't take too long to start digging up the bodies.

From the camp website -

We already know groups such as UK Uncut, Platform, the UK Tar Sands Network, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Occupy, Greater London Pensioners Association, Public and Commercial Services Union and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association Union will be contributing to this day; more groups will be announced in the coming weeks via our Twitter and Facebook page.

So it's our old mates in the public service and transport unions chipping in.

I wonder how many of their saner members even know where their money goes.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

IIRC the police who dealt with the pickets during the miners' strike were in at least some places bussed in from the Met. because of precisely this problem of the local force taking the easy way out.

Aug 17, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

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