Anti-fracking protest man from Lewes cleared of causing obstruction

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Lewes news
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A Lewes anti-fracking protester, along with nine others, has been acquitted of causing an obstruction on the highway.

Mark Mansbridge, 52, had been taking part in a demonstration at the Balcombe drilling site last summer.

After a three-day trial in Brighton, the judge concluded that their actions had been “dignified” and “reasonable’ and said that their right to protest was enshrined in the law. All defendants were found to be “of good character”, with no previous convictions.

It was acknowledged that the protesters had been non-violent and compliant and the charge of assault by one defendant was dropped.

Mr Mansbridge said: “The packed gallery erupted into applause at the verdict.

“I was struck by the variety of professions, ages and backgrounds amongst the defendants. What unites us is the shared view that fracking presents a real threat to our landscape, water and the fight against climate change.

“I am particularly concerned about the risk of contamination to the headwaters of the River Ouse which rises near Balcombe and feeds nearby Ardingly Reservoir. As Lewes residents know, and as the last few weeks have shown, it can be a volatile river.”