Balcombe anti-fracking protesters sent for trial

Eleven anti-fracking protesters charged with obstructing the highway during protests in Balcombe, will stand trial.

Dozens of people were arrested in connection with protests outside the Cuadrilla exploratory oil drilling site in Sussex, over the summer.

Magistrates in Crawley decided the eight men and three women will stand trial on 7 January, at a hearing the defendants did not have to attend.

A further 24 arrested protesters will face a pre-trial review on 16 October.

The defendants are alleged to have pulled a log in front of the entrance of the Cuadrilla drilling site which they sat on or around, blocking the way on 26 July.

One of the defendants Michael Atkins, 37, from Westbury, Wiltshire, is accused of assaulting a police officer by throwing hot tea at her.

He is also charged with obstructing the highway, alongside Frances Crack, 31, from Cardiff; Paul Deacon, 50, from Worthing, West Sussex; Samantha Duncan, 30, and Richard Millar, 30, both from Brighton; Ian Freeston, 52, Ezra Lynch, 31, and Mark Mansbridge, 51, all from Lewes, East Sussex; Justine Preece, 44, from Pontypridd, Wales; and Marcin Swiercz, 35, and Nancy Walker, 25, both from London

The defendants were released on unconditional bail and scheduled for a three-day trial at Brighton Magistrates' Court.

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