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Anti-fracking protest continues
Anti-fracking protesters will continue demonstrating at a camp in the West Sussex countryside as it emerged the cost of policing the operation has risen to nearly £750,000.
Up to 1,000 activists are due to join the six-day Reclaim the Power Camp on the outskirts of the village of Balcombe, which has become the focal point of fracking protests since energy firm Cuadrilla prepared to drill for oil at the site.
Campaigners fear the test drilling could lead to hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, but Cuadrilla has said it is unlikely to turn the site into a fossil fuel production area.
It has scaled back its operation on the advice of Sussex Police amid fears of unrest. Last night the force revealed the protests, which began last month, have so far cost taxpayers nearly £750,000 while officers from 10 other forces have been drafted in.
The camp was visited by Dame Vivienne Westwood, who called for a public debate on the matter. The fashion designer and eco-campaigner said: "I'm anti-fracking and I'm here to protest. There has been no debate. They are trying to rush this thing through, for what?
"We don't know whether it will do good or bad. I'm sure it's bad and the only people who are going to benefit from it is this energy company who are associated with the Government.
"Who do they think they are when I would say most of the country is really against fracking, particularly at this point in time when we don't know what is at stake? You can't push it through. In fact it won't supply energy security whatsoever. It will actually store up trouble for the future, financially as well as environmentally."
Some Balcombe residents have reacted angrily to the arrival of the anti-fracking protesters en masse, saying they are not representative of all villagers.
Derek Earl, 71, said: "I'm in the middle on the fracking debate, neither for nor against, but what I'm fed up with is the anti-frackers' behaviour. This lot have tunnel vision and they won't listen to anyone else's view. What is annoying is when they say that the overwhelming majority of the village supports them. They don't."
Ewa Jasiewicz, of anti-fracking group No Dash for Gas, said: "We are hoping to mobilise the massive public opinion that is opposed to fracking and to fossil fuel and is looking for cheap, sustainable, clean energy. It's in all of our interests to have that and it's possible to achieve this. The obstacles to this are political and not technical."