Having read the pros and cons of fracking, I decided to check things out for myself and made my way to Balcombe last Tuesday afternoon.
The village centre was deserted except for a couple enjoying a beer outside the pub. They pointed me down the road towards the protest.
Cautiously, I drove past the railway station where a dozen police cars were parked and looked for a safe place to leave my precious Nisson Micra. Yes, there was a space in the middle of a line of large police vans.
I strolled along the road, licking an ice-cream like I used to as a child on Brighton’s piers. All along the wide grass verges were tents with strongly worded anti-fracking signs but the inhabitants cheerfully waved as I passed.
So many protestors thanked me for being there while I thanked them for coming from far and wide.
There were hundreds of policemen/women from dozens of different forces. They too smiled welcomingly and were glad to chat.
Outside the gates of the fracking site stood 50 policemen. A short trek through some woods brought me to the perimeter fence where the police stood lining it but a metre or two apart. They were obviously bored and made me welcome – very different from the dark scowls of the internal security guys.
The media were there in force looking even more bored than the policemen.
On the way back to my car I stopped to sit by a camp fire and talked with a druid lady (Druidess?) called Guinevere and learned about Stonehenge and Celtic magic.
Driving away, past the tents, I obeyed a sign to hoot my support and was greeted with cheers all the way. I felt like the Queen! What I had expected to be a somewhat angry, frightening experience was thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing.
Looking on the serious side: If this is a critical clash of environment versus economy, then the environment surrounds us all while the economy enriches a few. Good luck protesters.