Anti-fracking activists in the United Kingdom last week scored something of a win, forcing Staffordshire, England-based Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. to scale back conventional drilling operations in West Sussex on the advice of police worried about "direct action" by protesters who began a three-day demonstration last Sunday.

Demonstrators targeted the village of Balcombe in West Sussex where Cuadrilla has conventional drilling activities, although the company is a ways off from using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at this site, if at all, it said.

"Cuadrilla acknowledges and regrets the disruption and inconvenience Balcombe villagers will experience as a result of the 'No Dash for Gas Action Camp,'" the company said. "After taking advice from Sussex Police, Cuadrilla is temporarily scaling back drilling operations ahead of the event.

"During this time, our main concern is the safety of our staff, Balcombe's residents and the protesters following threats of direct action against the exploration site. We plan to resume full operations as soon as it is safe to do so."

Cuadrilla is drilling a conventional oil well at Balcombe, CEO Francis Egan said last week. "External groups protesting against hydraulic fracturing at Balcombe do so without any work proposal from Cuadrilla to judge," he said. "Any hydraulic fracturing proposal would require a detailed environmental impact assessment, public consultations and multi-agency regulatory reviews, all of which would be available for scrutiny."

Early last month, Cuadrilla said it would frack and test the shale at its exploration well at Grange Hill in County Durham in northeast England in the UK's Bowland Basin. It also said it intends to drill, frack and test gas flows at up to six new temporary well sites in the Borough of Fylde, in Lancashire in northwest England (see Shale DailyJuly 8).

West Sussex, the site of the anti-fracking demonstrations, is in southern England.

 It was just last week that a report by the University of Nottingham suggested that public opinion in the country is beginning to shift in favor of unconventional natural gas development and fracking (see Shale DailyAug. 16).