Westbury man in court over fracking protest
7:22pm Wednesday 21st August 2013 in News
A Westbury man was one of 11 anti-fracking protestors who appeared at Crawley Magistrates' Court today charged with causing disruption at the exploratory drilling site at Balcombe.
Energy company Cuadrilla has controversially spent the past few weeks looking for oil at the site in West Sussex, while protesters remain camped outside.
Protesters believe the drilling could lead to fracking, which they claim imposes environmental risks including water contamination and small earthquakes.
Michael Atkins, 37, from Westbury, and 10 others were charged under Section 241 of the Trade Union Labour Relations Act for attempting to stop drivers and other workers from accessing the site.
Atkins is also charged with assaulting a police officer, but all pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Juliet Evans said self-employed computer programmer Atkins, who has just completed a PHD in particle physics at the University of Sussex, is alleged to have thrown a hot cup of tea over an officer.
She said: "At the time the protesters had moved a log across the road and were sitting on it causing an obstruction to the traffic."
The case was adjourned for a pre-trial review on October 2 and the defendants were told they did not need to attend.
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