British Green MP charged over part in fracking protest

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 25, 2013 9:42 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's only elected member of parliament from the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, was charged with public order offences on Wednesday after taking part in a protest last month against the shale gas extraction process known as fracking.

Lucas was among 36 activists arrested on August 19 as they tried to block access to an exploration site operated by Cuadrilla Resources near the picturesque village of Balcombe in Sussex, southern England.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest to prosecute Lucas for breaching a police order on public assemblies and willful obstruction of the highway.

Lucas will appear before Crawley Magistrates' Court on October 9. The offences are considered to be minor and the maximum penalty is a fine of 1,000 pounds ($1,600).

"I firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest and remain deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on climate change and wider environment," Lucas said in a statement.

The protests, a stand-off which lasted more than a month, prompted a national debate about fracking - the retrieval of gas and oil from rock by injection of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.

Critics say it can trigger small earthquakes and pollute water supplies. The Conservative-led government has backed fracking as an "energy revolution" that can create jobs and lower power bills.

Lucas represents the Sussex constituency of Brighton Pavilion. Her election as a member of parliament in 2010 marked the first time a representative of the Green Party joined the House of Commons.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Alison Williams)