Bianca Jagger joins fracking demo at Balcombe

Bianca Jagger at the Balcombe anti-fracking demonstration with Rafe and Marnie Usher-Harris
Bianca Jagger at the Balcombe anti-fracking demonstration with Rafe and Marnie Usher-Harris

Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, the former wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, has visited Balcombe to see the anti-fracking protest site for herself.

The 68-year-old (pictured) former actress visited the Cuadrilla Resources site where protesters have gathered and camped overnight since Thursday.

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger

Bianca is now a social and human right advocate and currently serves as a Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, and is founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation. She is listed on Wikipedia as having been honoured with numerous awards for her human rights activities.

According to Wikipedia, in October 2010 she spoke at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas 2010 world conference on moving beyond petroleum and “Crimes against Present and Future Generations”.

In June 2012, Jagger, along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Airbus launched an online campaign called Plant a Pledge initiative to restore 150 million hectares of forest around the world by 2020.

Lorries delivering equipment for a test drill rig to the Cuadrilla site on the B2036 between Balcombe and Cuckfield finally gained access on Friday and Saturday after more than 24 hours delay.

They were escorted on to the site by rows of police officers marching in lines either side of the vehicles, leading to allegations of heavy-handedness.

One woman who lives in the village said a lot of Balcombe residents had been going down to the protest site, donating food and chatting to the activists who have comes from across the south east as well as Brighton and Hove.

She said of the activists: “The press are giving them “horns” and seem to find them a better “news story” than us. There were people from Staplefield, Cuckfield and Ardingly yesterday, too.

“The police presence is overkill and quite a few of us have complained that 90 riot police are there to intimidate and make it as unpleasant as possible for people to come down from the village. They far outnumber the protesters, and it’s unnecessary to lay on the para-military style, all marching in silence like drones. The police during the night and last night are lovely though.”

Sussex Police estimated that around 60 protesters gathered at the Cuadrilla site in London Road on Friday with 80 the next day.

Some had moved a tree across the entrance and were blocking access. Police Liaison Officers spoke to protesters to negotiate for them to move.

Supt Steve Whitton said: “Sussex Police fully recognises the right to demonstrate peacefully and seeks to facilitate such activity. We also have a duty to recognise and help facilitate the rights of other parties to go about their lawful business.

“These two rights sometimes conflict, so policing at demonstrations requires careful decisions to be made that help balance the two.

“Our aim at Balcombe is to provide a safe and secure environment for protesters, residents and the contractors alike, to minimise disproportionate disruption to the local community and to prevent crime and disorder.”

Sussex Police said Police Liasion Officers had been working with the protest groups and Cuadrilla with the overriding priority of keeping all parties safe and minimising disruption. A police presence was maintained throughout the weekend and Police Liaison Officers continued to work with all parties.