Taxpayers
face £2.3m
protest bill

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The cost of the policing operation at the anti-fracking protests in West Sussex has soared to £2.3m.

The figure has risen dramatically from the near-£750,000 announced by Sussex Police before the six-day Reclaim the Power camp.

Some 1,000 extra protesters descended on the outskirts of Balcombe for the camp, which included a march and two days of direct action.

Sussex Police said policing over the six days cost £1.5m alone, including mutual aid provided by officers from 10 other forces across the UK.

Anti-fracking activists were protesting about energy firm Cuadrilla’s exploratory oil drilling operation in the countryside. It is expected that the final cost of policing the protests, which are continuing on a much smaller scale, will eventually hit around £3.7m.

During the camp, organised by No Dash For Gas, more than 30 people were arrested, including former Green Party leader and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas.

Since the protests sprang up in the West Sussex countryside at the end of July, 80 people have been arrested.

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said the involvement of national protest groups led the force to deploy “significant” extra resources.

She has written to the Government, saying the force intends to apply for Home Office help in funding the extra costs of the operation.