UPDATE: Number of protesters arrested up to five
Five people were arrested after two activists chained themselves to a 100kg concrete block to prevent vehicles from entering a drilling site in Broadford Bridge, Billingshurst, on Monday (June 12), according to Sussex Police.
A police spokesman said: “Lara Bloch, 22, unemployed, of Southmont, Brighton, and Sarah McNichol, 22, unemployed, of Princes Terrace, Brighton, were arrested and charged with disrupting lawful activity, contrary to Section 241 of the Trade Unions Act, after allegedly locking themselves on to each other at the entrance to the site.
“Both have been bailed to appear before Worthing Magistrates’ Court on July 11.
“Three further people arrested on suspicion of wilfully obstructing a highway, contrary to the Highways Act – an 84-year-old woman from Egham in Surrey, a 65-year-old woman from Staines-Upon-Thames in Middlesex and a 24-year-old man from Brighton – were all released under investigation.
“No injuries were reported.”
Exploratory oil drilling at Broadford Bridge has been the focus of various campaigns for many months, but last month site permit holder UK Oil and Gas confirmed work was expected to start ‘shortly’.
Police liaison officers were called to the scene on Monday, and specialists arrived soon after to cut the protesters from a concrete block.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said officers have been at the site since drilling started to deal with protesters.
This protest comes after a 41-year-old man from Lindfield was arrested on May 25 on suspicion of causing wilful obstruction of the highway and subsequently released under investigation, police said.
A spokesman for UK Oil and Gas said: “We support the right to peaceful protest, but this type of anti-social behaviour is an extraordinary waste of precious police resources and is solely aimed at preventing us from going about our lawful business.
“Given recent events in Manchester and London, these people should realise that the police have far more pressing calls on their valuable time and resources.
“We thank Sussex Police for their patience and professionalism.”