Live updates

Could Kent be the next fracking battle ground?

An energy company's plans to drill for gas at four sites in Kent risks the contamination of drinking water supplies to thousands of homes.

That's the claim, tonight, from residents, farmers - and scientists - campaigning to kill off proposals for exploratory drilling at a former quarry at Tilmanstone... a farm in Guston... and woodland at Sheperdswell. A licence has already been granted for drilling on land at Woodnesborough.

Exploratory drilling at Balcombe in Sussex - again for gas - was abandoned after months of mass protest. There had been fears that any exploration would lead to the controversial method of fracking.

Andrea Thomas reports. She spoke to retired university lecturer Geoff Mead, Graham Warren from the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Rosemary Rechter from East Kent Against Fracking and Andrew Wiseman, an environmental lawyer.

Sussex Police review their response to Balcombe protests

Sussex Police has published an independent review of its response to the exploratory drilling and protests at Balcombe. The document highlighted good practice, but also make recommendations to help the force deal with any protests in the future.

More than a thousand protesters were at the site at its height with 126 arrests made.

The initial policing response appeared slow as the intelligence and information at that time indicated that any protests could be managed locally by the division. It was in the last days of July that we became aware of the size and complexity of the situation and it was at that point that it became a force level operation. In Sussex it is normal practice for us to appoint an ACPO officer for a force level operation. They provided an oversight for this dynamic operation and acted as a conduit between the force and the PCC."

– Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry

We made the best use of our resources, including Special Constables and volunteers, to support divisions. Rest days were cancelled and re-rostered to meet the demand over the summer period, and pre-arranged leave was managed. The logistical support and planning was a challenge above and beyond our recent experience and the impact on all of our staff was recognised early on. We worked with the Police Federation and Unison to mitigate those risks."

– Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry

In relation to workloads supervisors on a daily basis monitored and assessed staff commitments and where necessary reallocated tasks. The recommendations and good practice mentioned in the review have been acknowledged and the future policing approach to these types of incidents has incorporated much of the learning."

– Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry


Sussex police quizzed over Balcombe protests

PCC questions over last summer's protests Credit: PA

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex has quizzed the Force about what lessons have been learned following the anti-fracking protests in Balcombe. Sussex Police made 126 arrests during the operation which led to 29 convictions.

The Force says it's looking at the judgements of a review and the implications for policing similar future events.

Half of Balcombe cases dropped

Almost half of the protesters facing court action after the anti-fracking protests in Sussex last year have had the charges against them dropped.

There were huge demonstrations at Balcombe when the energy company Cuadrilla was given a licence for test drilling for gas - or oil. Fracking was NOT carried out.

But many prosecutions have been abandoned for lack of evidence.

Today, protesters criticised the way police made arrests. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Sussex Police reveal anti-fracking protest cost

The final cost of policing the anti-fracking demonstrations in Balcombe has been disclosed as nearly £4 million pounds.

The figure revealed by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, including standard police salaries stands at £3.985 million.

She has submitted an application to the Home Office to recover the cost of the policing operation.

Fracking campaigners pitch outside council offices

Anti-fracking campaigners have pitched their tents outside West Sussex County Council after a roadside camp was repossessed. People have been protesting outside County Hall in Chichester today.

Earlier this week, the High Court granted the council a possession order for grass verges in Balcombe, where protestors had been camping. Campaigners say they will stay outside the council headquarters until tomorrow. Campaigner Kenny Lloyd spoke to Meridian.


Anti-fracking protest camp outside council offices

Anti-fracking protesters have pitched up outside the offices of a council which took legal action to evict activists from beside a former exploratory drilling site. Around 25 people with nine tents have gathered for a peaceful protest outside County Hall in Chichester, West Sussex.

This week the High Court granted West Sussex County Council a possession order for verges at Balcombe amid concerns protesters were causing a hazard by camping by the busy road. Balcombe was at the centre of anti-fracking protests during the summer as energy firm Cuadrilla conducted test drilling.

Drilling under homes 'illegal' says Greenpeace

Anti-fracking protesters clashed with police in Balcombe Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Greenpeace is arguing that plans to drill horizontally under people's homes is unlwaful if they don't have permission from the owners.

Greenpeace Senior Campaigner Anna Jones said: “Under English law, if you own land, your rights extend to all the ground beneath it. That means if someone drills under your home without permission it is trespass.”

“To avoid being liable for trespass, drillers would need landowners’ permission. And this case is about people explicitly declaring they do not give that permission. This will make it extremely difficult for companies to move ahead with any horizontal drilling plans.”

Load more updates