Caroline Lucas Channels Gandhi As Court Rules She Will Face Trial For Fracking Protest

Caroline Lucas' Fracking Protest 'Inspired By Gandhi'

Gandhi was the inspiration behind Caroline Lucas' 'non-violent' protest against fracking, the Green MP said today, as a court ruled she must face trial on public order charges.

Lucas attended Crawley Magistrates' Court for a hearing where she entered not guilty pleas to offences allegedly committed during anti-fracking protests during the summer.

"I believe in the importance of 'speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly' – a phrase from Gandhi that continues to resonate today," the MP said in an open letter.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (centre) reads a statement following her appearance at Crawley Magistrates' Court in West Sussex

The Brighton Pavilion MP, who is charged with one count of breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway outside the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, on August 19, will stand trial with four others early next year, the court was told.

"Fracking for shale gas seriously undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis, which in turn means our children, and theirs, will inherit a much more dangerous world," Lucas said.

"The Government is not only refusing to listen to the evidence, it is choosing to become a flag-waver in chief for the fracking industry, offering them generous tax breaks as well as allowing them senior roles within the Government itself.

"By joining the peaceful protest in Balcombe I wanted to join with others in actively opposing the exploitation of yet more fossil fuels."

She wrote: "There is a proud tradition of non-violent direct action in this country. In joining the peaceful protest I wanted to send a clear message to the Government, and to support the people at the proposed fracking site in Balcombe who were standing up to be counted.

"It’s likely that there will be a trial next year. I want to reassure you that you will be able to contact me as usual, and I will continue to hold my weekly surgeries, attend local meetings and represent Brighton Pavilion in parliamentary debates."

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.

Cuadrilla has since completed its exploratory oil drilling and left the site after more than two months of operations which involved the drilling of a vertical exploration well to a depth of 2,720ft, collecting 294ft of rock samples.

The energy firm also confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons, which can be used for fuel, and said it would apply for planning permission to carry out further testing to determine flow rates.

Sussex Police said the overall cost of the operation, which saw 125 people arrested in 65 days, is estimated at about £4 million.

Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has applied to the Home Office for financial support to meet the additional cost of policing what she has described as "a national issue".

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