Green MP Caroline Lucas Charged Over Fracking Protest

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas will be prosecuted for her role in anti-fracking demonstrations, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.

She will be prosecuted for "breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway".

The MP was among at least 25 people who were arrested during a day of "direct action" by protesters outside the gates of the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, where hundreds demonstrated against fracking.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas will be prosecuted for her role in anti-fracking demonstrations

Lucas said in a statement that she had indeed been charged but added that she remained "deeply concerned" about the impact of fracking.

"Sussex police have today confirmed I am being charged with two offences arising out of my arrest in Balcombe on August 19.

"One of the offences is for obstructing the highway. The other is for failing to comply with a police condition to move to a specified protest area.

"I firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest and remain deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on climate change and the wider environment.

"I have been advised by my lawyer to make no further comment at this stage."

CPS lawyer Nigel Pilkington said: "Following an investigation by Sussex Police, the Crown Prosecution Service has received a file of evidence in relation to Ms Caroline Lucas MP, who was arrested during the anti-fracking demonstrations at the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe last month.

"After careful consideration, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Ms Lucas for breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway."

He said Sussex Police had been authorised to charge Ms Lucas with one count of breach of a section 14 order contrary to section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway contrary to section 137 of the Highways Act 1980.

At the time of her arrest, Lucas said she was trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come, undermining efforts to tackle climate change and posing risks to the local environment.

She said: "People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us.

"Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the Government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent.

"When the democratic deficit is so enormous, people are left with very little option but to take peaceful, non-violent direct action.''

Sussex Police said protesters were arrested as officers moved in to clear a large group of people in front of an emergency access to the site.

Opponents of fracking, in which water and chemicals are pumped into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas, fear it could harm water resources and cause small earthquakes, and development of the sites will cause noise and traffic.

More than 100 arrests have been made since July and policing costs have also soared to more than £2.4 million, leading Sussex's police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne to ask the Home Office for financial help.

West Sussex County Council went to London's High Court last week asking for a possession order for the verges where the camp is set up but Mrs Justice Lang adjourned the application after describing it as "flawed", with the result that if the council does not apply to restore it in a new form by October 8, it will be either withdrawn or dismissed.

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