Horse Hill drilling site eviction sees protesters and enforcement officers clash

September 13, 2018
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A group of protesters clashed with enforcement officers sent to dismantle a tower which was built near the Horse Hill drilling site.

Able Investigations was sent in to dismantle a structure built by activists on privately-owned land on Monday (September 10) next to the oil site near Horley .

However the process took about 15 hours, finishing at 3am the following morning, because activists attempted to stop the tower being taken down. One person even reportedly locked themselves to it.

Able then had to call in Dorking-based Specialist Group International to dismantle the structure safely due to the resistance.

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Surrey oil protests

During tussles between the two groups, a spokesman for Able claims some protesters tried to scratch its officers, while a witness in support of the protesters claims they were “severely manhandled” by the officers.

Phil Jackson, a resident of Reigate who witnessed the confrontation, said: “An unmarked black transit van pulled up and probably eight security guards came flying out of the side door.

“They bashed people out of the way to get to the structure built on landowner’s site. They didn’t produce any paperwork at all. Extreme force was used with no warning.

Specialist Group International employees at the site
(Image: Horse Hill Protection Group)

“A number of people were severely manhandled. I’m still in shock of having witnessed it.”

However Steve Wood, the managing director of Able, responded to these accusations saying proportional force was used, and that paperwork was produced.

He said: “My team used proportional force to what we were faced with. Two females were trying to scratch my men’s faces and so we had to use force.

“No more force was used than was necessary and the police are happy with the amount of force that was used.

Watch as protesters at Horse hill drilling site are arrested for alleged public order offences

“We handed them eviction notices that were laminated but they set fire to them or threw them in the road.”

Police recorded no offences

Surrey Police said no arrests were made and that its officers were there to ensure there was no breach of the peace.

A spokeswoman said: “We will always facilitate peaceful protest and will only take action if activity at the site causes a breach of the peace or results in a public order offence.

“Officers remain at the site and will continue to work with the local community, the company running the site and anyone expressing a wish to protest, to balance the rights, needs and wishes of all parties involved.”

A JCB and a number of enforcement officers at the site
(Image: Horse Hill Protection Group)

Mr Jackson described the experience as “frightening”.

He added: “You are especially frightened when you aren’t getting any help from the police. The women there were very frightened.

“It was very, very hardcore. I don’t understand why they did it that way.”

But Mr Wood said the operation was completed in a safe way despite the confrontation. He said: “I’ve done this job for 25 years and I’ve never received one complaint or caused one injury.”

Despite the difficult nature of the incident, Mr Wood couldn’t help but be impressed by one particular aspect of the protest.

He said: “It was the best lock-on [to the tower] I’ve ever seen. It weighed over 100lbs.”

The protesters have now reportedly moved on to land owned by Surrey County Council (SCC).

SCC has been contacted for comment.

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/horse-hill-drilling-site-eviction-15144701


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