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Police corral Balcombe fracking foes

Sept. 10, 2013 at 8:21 AM

BALCOMBE, England, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- British police in West Sussex ordered demonstrators protesting against Cuadrilla's oil drilling campaign in Balcombe to gather in a specific assembly area.

Cuadrilla Resources has faced widespread protests over its oil drilling operations in Balcombe. Protesters are concerned the drilling may lead to a broader hydraulic fracturing campaign. The company says it's drilling a conventional exploratory well in the area.

West Sussex police said protesters starting Tuesday need to assemble across the road from Cuadrilla's drilling site.

"Since protesters started to gather at the end of July we have facilitated peaceful protest and will continue to do so," Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison said in a statement Monday. "However, over the last week we have seen a rise in the amount of unlawful activities and this has caused increasing disruption to the local community and to those trying to carry out their lawful business."

The company's existing permit runs through the end of the month. Protesters are limited to the assembly area through Sept. 27.

Critics of fracking say it could lead to environmental degradation and groundwater contamination. Cuadrilla said it has no immediate plans for a fracking campaign in Balcombe.

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