French MEP José Bové leads Balcombe anti-fracking rally

The gathering was held at Balcombe in West Sussex

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Hundreds of protesters have taken part in an anti-fracking rally in West Sussex led by a key campaigner from France.

French Green MEP José Bové addressed the gathering at Balcombe on Sunday.

The site was the scene of protests during the summer when energy firm Cuadrilla carried out test drilling for oil at the site.

Mr Bové met with campaigners before leading a brief occupation of the drilling pad.

Addressing the rally, Mr Bové said that because France already had a fracking ban, it was the responsibility of the French to support the UK opposition to the drilling technique.

He added that there had to be a "real movement at national level with all different kinds of people" and that only when politicians were "afraid to lose their place in parliament [would they] change the way they think".

"You have to say to all candidates 'are you for or against fracking?'" he said.

A spokesman for the event's organisers said it had had a "very good-spirited, peaceful but determined atmosphere".

The protest followed the prime minister restating the government's commitment to fracking in parliament and came ahead of a European Union vote on Wednesday over fracking rules in the the EU.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the UK had "world-beating standards for water, for health and safety, for the environment [which meant that] there's absolutely no reason that we can't frack safely".

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