UPDATE (9/9/2013 – 23:35) – Sussex Police have issued a statement that a Section 14 will be in place tomorrow in Balcombe after 9am. Anyone wishing to protest against Cuadrilla’s drilling must do so in a newly designed protest area or face arrest. You can read the full statement here. Looks like this is a very clever way for the council to evict the camp without having to go through the usual legal proceedings.
Today the Balcombe Protection Camp was served with a notice from West Sussex County Council asking them to vacate the verges outside Cuadrilla’s drilling site by 9am on 10 September or face legal proceedings. It is unclear how long it will take the council to obtain an eviction notice. Some fear that they may choose to use legislation aimed at clearing traveller communities and clear the site imminently. Whilst others believe that they will go through the usual court proceedings which wont’ result in an eviction notice for several weeks.
Many are questioning why the local council have waited until now to send this letter to the camp. After all, everyone is likely to leave after Cuadrilla’s drilling license expires on 28 September. According to a press release from West Sussex County Council, they are concerned about the safety of all road users and have decided to clear the area. However, the letter comes a week after No Dash for Gas launched their 28 Days Later campaign calling for more intense blockading action at the Cuadrilla site. The week saw three separate actions that lead to the closure of the main road in front of the drilling site for several hours and added on to the delays that Cuadrilla have already experienced throughout the summer. Is it the possible threat or more actions like these that have caused the council to try and remove the camp?
Regardless of why the council has decided to serve notice, it will be interested to see what happens to the camp in the coming days. If you would like to help the camp, now would be a good time to go down and support them in whatever way that you can.