West Sussex police last week said they've arrested more than 100 people for disturbing public order and other violations during ongoing protests at a Cuadrilla Resources drilling site in Balcombe.
Demonstrators said the operation is a prelude to a broader hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, campaign. The company said it's drilling an exploratory oil well and would need additional permits for fracking.
The practice involves injected huge quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations. Critics worry some of those chemicals may contaminate drinking water supplies.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said Friday demonstrations, which began in July, cost law enforcement agencies more than $3.8 million, the West Sussex County Times reported Friday
West Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Tony Blaker said protesters last week worked to block the road leading to the drilling site.
He said an area was set up last week to allow demonstrators to protest without disturbing the company's operations.
"As we have said all along, we are more than happy to facilitate legitimate, peaceful protest and will continue to do so, but step out of line and you are liable to arrest," he was quoted as saying.