Frack Off: A Taste of Protest Life

By Kiera McNicholas, Staff Photographer

The Balcombe Protection Camp is the name of the fracking protest I lived at for a week this summer. Balcombe is a town a 45 minute train ride outside of London, England. Fracking has just starting in England—it is early enough in the game that the English can learn from America’s mistakes before the damage becomes irreversible.

Cuadrilla, the drilling company, started test drilling to evaluate the location. Even though they had legal permission from the landowner there was some political drama there because the landowner also happened to own basically the whole town and was everyone’s landlord, yet he himself lived hours away. The local villagers put their foot down and set up camp along the side of the road.

What started with a small group of protesters grew into a 9 week protest camp with over 1,000 protesters coming and going, about 100 arrests, over 60 tents being lived out of, food and water donations enough to support anywhere between 30 – 100 resident protesters at one time, and so much more. Follow the stories of these pictures to get a taste of my experience.

Click on an image to get the full caption.

Here is the link to the scroll seen in the final picture:

I considered the protection camp/protest site to be my home from Aug. 7 to Aug. 13.  I am still amazed and how impacted my life was and continues to be by my time there. My experience at the protest was a reminder of how beautiful the world is (‘strangers’ coming together and giving what they had passionately and working for environmental change) as well as a reality check of how messed up it is. It was life changing without a doubt.

Ever seen someone get arrested? I witnessed my first arrest on day 2. Here is a video (provided by visionontv, filmed by Hamish Campbell) of my friend getting arrested: his charge was for giving the cops the finger.

If you have any questions, comments, or want to share a similar story you can contact Kiera at


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