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Fracking: Cheshire Police spent £200k on Upton eviction

Police at the camp Image copyright Frack Free Dee Coalition
Image caption Police closed off the Duttons Lane entrance to the Upton site

A six-day operation to evict protesters from the UK's oldest anti-fracking camp cost £200,000, Cheshire Police said.

Campaigners set up camp at Upton, near Chester, in April 2014 to prevent testing by energy company IGas.

Cheshire Police said 12 people were removed from the field in a "difficult and challenging policing operation".

A spokesman for the Frack Free Dee coalition claimed the police response, involving 175 officers from 12 January, was "disproportionate".

This figure included a national demonstration involving 400 protesters four days later.

Clean-up operation

Nine people were charged with a number of offences after the eviction, including aggravated trespass and obstructing a police officer.

Bailiffs cleared the site after IGas secured a court order compelling the protesters to leave the area in November.

The firm said an "extensive clean-up operation" was now under way at the site.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: "The fact that there was no violence, and only nine arrests for minor offences, reflects what we believe was a well-planned and undertaken operation.

"I'd also like to acknowledge that, despite the strong feelings of the protesters and those who were removed during the eviction, the protest was good natured."

However, Cheshire Police said it was reviewing three complaints received after the eviction.

Emma Chung from the Frack Free Dee coalition criticised the scale of the operation.

"It is unsurprising that the disproportionate response to a peaceful protest has cost such an excessive amount," she said.

"Should IGas not be the the ones to foot this bill though instead of the general public?"

IGas told the BBC: "The protesters were on the site illegally.

"It is a matter for the local police authority to assess the policing requirements needed to support the eviction process."

A report on the eviction process is being compiled for Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

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