Sussex activist who climbed on oil rig lorry to appear at court

Dr Peter Whittick, who climbed on an oil rig lorry, is due to appear at court tomorrow (February 14). Picture: Keep Billingshurst Frack Free

A Sussex activist who climbed on an oil rig lorry as an ‘act of conscientious’ could face a prison sentence, according to a campaign group.

Dr Peter Whittick, a Sussex activist, academic and writer, is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court tomorrow morning (February 14).

Campaigners at the trial. Picture: Keep Billingshurst Frack Free

A trial was held last Tuesday and heard how Dr Whittick, a ‘conscientious protector’, climbed on a oil rig lorry at Pease Pottage services, near Crawley.

The lorry was on its way to the Angus Energy oil site at Lidsey, near Bognor, campaign group Keep Billingshurst Frack Free has said.

Campaigners will be supporting Dr Whittick tomorrow, who denies a charge of ‘hindering a person from driving on their onward journey’.

Dr Anna Currado, of Keep Billingshurst Frack Free, said: “The rig had just left the controversial Broadford Bridge exploratory oil well site near Billingshurst, where UK Oil and Gas (UKO) has been exploring for oil since May 2017.

Campaigners at the trial, inluding Sussex-based actress Sue Jameson. Picture: Keep Billingshurst Frack Free

“Dr Whittick will hear the judge’s verdict on occupying UKOG’s Broadford Bridge oil drill-rig and stopping breaches in planning conditions. He faces a custodial sentence.

“Dr Whittick scaled the rig and occupied it overnight as an act of conscience against the industrialisation of the Weald and the accelerated effects of climate change from increased fossil fuel extraction.

“Dr Whittick joins other concerned people from around the world now legally registering themselves as conscientious protectors – someone who can no longer stand by in the face of increasing environmental damage.

“Supporters from around Sussex will come together to demonstrate their love for the Earth on Valentine’s Day and can send a #Valentine2Earth on Twitter.”

Dr Whittick is due to make a statement after the verdict is delivered, Dr Currado said.

West Sussex County Council granted UKOG an extension to their planning permission to explore for oil at Broadford Bridge on September 9, last year.

The company promised to complete flow testing using acidisation by December 22, but after hitting difficulties on the site, they were given an extension from the UK Oil and Gas Authority to flow test until the end of February 2018, Dr Currado said.

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