Balcombe High Court Victory

Balcombe High Court Victory

Balcombe High Court Victory

Community Protection Camp in Balcombe has been successfully defended at High Court in London this morning, against attempts by West Sussex County Council to help Cuadrilla disrupt the blockade.

Case adjourned until the 8th October with costs provisionally awarded against WSCC, whose case was deeply flawed and did not address any of the main issues, like right to protest.

West Sussex County Council granted Cuadrilla the right to drill, without any proper scrutiny taking place. At Parish Council, there had been no discussion, one of the Parish Councilors being a direct beneficiary.

Once again we see a council in the pocket of Big Business.

In a crude attempt to help Cuadrilla, the County Council tried to evict the protesters camped on the grass verges.

The council gave demonstrators formal notice last week that they were no longer able to protest on the council-owned highway outside the site where gas company Cuadrilla is undertaking exploratory drilling.

The protest camp refused to leave, and this morning both parties were at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

But Mrs Justice Lang adjourned the application after describing it as “flawed”, with the result that if the council does not apply to restore it in a new form by October 8, it will be either withdrawn or dismissed.

The judge said that, although the case was presented as a straightforward matter of obtaining possession, it was more complicated as there was a need to balance the right to peaceful assembly and to demonstrate.

She had heard from counsel that the proceedings might well be academic as the planning permission granted to Cuadrilla three years ago will expire on 28 September and there was currently no application to extend it.

The company would not be permitted to drill after that date and it was likely that many campaigners would leave the site.

Juliette Harris, a Balcombe villager for more than 30 years, said:

Eighty-five per cent of people don’t want Cuadrilla in Balcombe.

The majority of the villagers have been supportive of the protesters, and they have been down there in their hundreds.

The protesters I have seen are decent, committed people who have been out in all weathers, and who have been demonised by the press and deterred by the police.

We are thrilled that the judge thought that West Sussex County Council’s application to evict was flawed. The council has done nothing to assist us and everything to help Cuadrilla.

It’s time the council paid attention because it is us who pay their wages.

Once again we see a council wasting public money to act against the interest of local people.

Assuming costs are awarded against the council, this should not be levied against local taxpayers. Councillors who approved this action should be surcharged.

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