UK lawmaker arrested at anti-fracking protest

LONDON (AP) — A British lawmaker was among more than two dozen people arrested Monday at a protest against shale gas extraction in southern England.

Caroline Lucas, Britain’s only Green Party member in Parliament, was led away by police from a sit-in at the gates of a drilling site near the village of Balcombe and put in a police van. Sussex Police said about 25 protesters were arrested for offenses including assault and “obstruction of the highway.”

Lucas said she and the other demonstrators “took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available.”

“Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come,” Lucas said. “The evidence is clear that fracking undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis and poses potential risks to the local environment.”

The Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. site, 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of London, has been targeted by demonstrators opposing the process known as fracking.

The company says its operation at Balcombe involves exploratory drilling for oil and won’t include fracking, though it hasn’t ruled it out in future.

Cuadrilla suspended work at the site Friday as protesters gathered for a six-day protest camp.

The government says tapping shale gas could transform Britain’s energy supply, but critics say it risks despoiling the countryside.

Other protesters blockaded Cuadrilla’s central England headquarters on Monday, while another group glued themselves to the door of the London PR firm the company employs. Several people were arrested.

Cuadrilla condemned the protests.

“What we are doing is legal, approved and safe,” it said in a statement. “Shale gas is essential to improve our energy security, heat our homes and create jobs and growth.”

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