Saturday, August 17, 2013


The demonstrations about the oil and gas exploration in the sleepy Sussex village of Balcombe are getting out of hand. It`s not just the cost of policing - now £750,000 and rising - it`s what they are doing to the quiet, dreamtime of a quintessentially leafy Sussex retreat.  Here`s a taste of what it looks like (or did until the last month or so):-

Of course, Balcombe is in the news because of the exploratory drilling going on and the resultant demonstrations against the disturbance of the peace and the prospect of fracking for new energy reserves.   Intriguingly, the name `Balcombe` may mean `Mining Place Camp.`   Bal is a Cornish word meaning a mining place and the word may go back to Ancient British Celtic.   And although Combe  can mean a valley, it can also come from the Roman `camp,` so the name of Balcombe could once have described a Romano-British mining settlement.  So maybe we shouldn`t be surprised that the area is being explored for its underground reserves.

I`m not sure I`m qualified to enter into the debate about oil, gas and fracking but I am interested in the gaggle of protesters who continue to descend on this quiet backwater.   I think it was the local villagers (pop:1765) who first raised eyebrows about the drilling proposals even though a licence had been granted after the usual consultations and bureaucratic hoops had been gone through, but their concerns have now been transformed into a bandwagon, onto which all the usual suspects are gleefully jumping.

They`re all there, of course, like Lenny Henry`s advert for Premier Inns - the well meaning ones, the scruffy ones, the professional agitators, the misguided ones, now even the rich and famous - Chrissie Hynde`s daughter, the absurd Dame Vivienne Westwood and any minute now I expect to see guest celebrity appearances from the likes of Stephen Fry, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, all hell bent on being seen to be on the side of the righteous, always assuming they know which side that might be.  

Now, being ever in search of equality and balance in all things, as witnessed by my call for a Straight Pride Parade to even up the gay one, I think it`s time for the mild-mannered silent majority of little middle-Englanders to set up their own alternative camp around Balcombe, as an evening-up protest against the protesters.   It would all be very genteel, of course, be quietly unassuming and would require no policing, but simply make the point that the great unwashed should not be allowed to run roughshod over private property, legal processes, rural tranquillity and police budgets.  There might just be another voice, an alternative view, to be heard. 

Tea and cake anyone?


Ray Turner said...

Yes Snopper, the professional protestors are out in farce again.

They're wasting their time of course. The only thing that their little circus will achieve is keeping the media circus happy. The fracking is going to happen whether they like it or not.

Its the combination of the two circuses that's the real problem in Balcombe. Protestors tend to fuel the media and vice-versa, there's a chain reaction and it all gets a bit out of proportion...

Tea and cake would be lovely, thanks!

Snopper said...

Looks as if the protesters are 2-0 up at half time - Quadrilla (?sp) have revved down their drilling `on Police advice` (1-0) and the protesters have been left alone by the Police despite illegally occupying private land.(2-0)

It is indeed a funny old game.