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Joy as fracking firm halts drilling
The Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, as anti-fracking activists plan a weekend of demonstrations
Anti-fracking protesters have welcomed the suspension of an exploratory oil drilling operation in the English countryside as the first of hundreds of extra activists started to arrive.
Up to 1,000 more campaigners are set to descend on the outskirts of Balcombe, West Sussex, for the six-day Reclaim the Power Camp.
It has been organised in opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which some fear energy firm Cuadrilla will go on to conduct after it has completed its exploratory oil drilling.
Campaigners were erecting marquees, tents and kitchen and toilet facilities on the site, which is about a mile from the exploratory drilling project.
Cuadrilla, which has said it is unlikely to turn the site into a fossil fuel production area, has scaled back its operation on the advice of Sussex Police amid fears of unrest.
Razor-topped fences surround the drilling site as camp organisers No Dash for Gas warned there will be "direct action" in the days ahead.
No Dash for Gas said the camp programme will include skills-sharing in campaign building and direct action, as well as talks, assemblies and workshops.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, told ITV News: "I'm quite worried about safety on the site. We have a group who are relocating a camp to the site, who have said publicly that they will be taking direct action against the site.
"It's a small site. There are a small amount of workers on the site. We are doing something that is legally approved and I am worried about the safety implications for our workers, for peaceful protesters."
Mr Egan's sentiments were echoed by Sussex Police. Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: "We will continue to facilitate peaceful protest, but newcomers to the site should be aware that if they commit criminal offences, then we will collect the evidence and they will be arrested."