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Exploratory fracking in Balcombe, UK


The conflict consists of prospections and further extract shale gas through fracking. There is a strong opposition from the local and regional community that has been extended throughout the whole country. There was an official poll in which 85% of local population declared themselves against the fracking prospections. Nevertheless, the government granted the permits and the local population perceive the process and the activity as a deeply lack of democracy.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Exploratory fracking in Balcombe, UK
Country:United Kingdom
State or province:West Sussex
Location of conflict:Balcombe
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Shale Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

They are in the exploratory phase. The Company is drilling a well.

Project area:5
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1765
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Cuadrilla
Relevant government actors:UK government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:No Fracking in Balcombe Society, No Dash for Gas, Frack off, Disabled people against the cuts, Fuel Poverty Action, Sussex Extreme Energy Resistance, Gasfield Free Sussex, Lewes Against Fracking, Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Protest camp Protests at offices and houses of Members of the English Parliament.


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Withdrawal of company/investment
36 arrested people
Development of alternatives:further develop renewable energies
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Due to the social pressure, especially during summer 2013, the company withdrew an application to extend drilling and horizontal well testing at a site near Balcombe beyond September 28.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Relevant legilation:

Shale gas drilling is currently only in the exploratory phase in the UK. It is covered by the normal UK regime for all oil and gas exploration and development. A UK Petroleum Exploration and Development licence (PEDL) allows a company to pursue a range of exploration activities, including exploration and development of unconventional gas, subject to necessary drilling/development consents and planning permission.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Videos by you and I films:

What price? ( A short film documenting the coming together of local residents of Balcombe and anti-fracking campaigners on a single issue: to stop Cuadrilla undertaking exploratory drilling in West Sussex):


No dash for gas:

Fracking protesters march in Sussex in biggest show of strength so far:

Frack off:

Gas driller freezes plans in rural Britain after fracking protests:

Anti-fracking campaigners target Cuadrilla HQ:

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Reclaim the power pictures:

Nicki locked onto Balcombe gate (Nicki, a lecturer in environmental sciences and local community member, locks onto Cuadrillas site gate in Balcombe attempting to delay access):

Reclaim the power camp invitation:

Balcombe anti-fracking protest in pictures:

One man stop (Anti-fracking activist climbs a loaded lorry exiting the Balcombe Cuadrilla site and d-locks himself to the vehicle blockading the road)

Meta information

Contributor:Amaranta Herrero
Last update18/08/2019