© Dan Kitwood/GettyRed herring, this way: Protesters take part in an anti-fracking demonstration in the West Sussex village of Balcombe.
Planning authorities have been banned from considering whether renewable energy plants would be a better fit for their communities, if they receive an application for a fracking mine.

Documents released by the government stress that local authorities should instead recognise that "mineral extraction is essential to local and national economies". This is despite a Department for Communities and Local Government document highlighting 16 environmental risks linked to the process, including seismic shocks and the appearance of radioactive surface water.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of drilling and then injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Critics point to a series of environmental disasters in America linked to fracking as a reason to instead concentrate on renewable energy.

The 10th day of protests were staged on Saturday at the West Sussex village of Balcombe where energy company Cuadrilla is exploring the possibility of fracking. About 400 people gathered to sing and wave placards at the gates of the site on a leafy B-road a kilometre outside the village.

However, the government's planning document stresses that fracking could be a vital source of energy. "Mineral planning authorities should not consider demand for, or consider alternatives to, oil and gas resources when determining planning applications," the document says. "Government energy policy makes it clear that energy supplies should come from a variety of sources.

"Mineral extraction is essential to local and national economies ... minerals planning authorities should give great weight to the benefits of minerals extraction, including to the economy, when determining planning applications."

In Balcombe, residents organised a "weekend stomp" to the protest site, where some campaigners have established a temporary campsite with about two dozen tents on the grass verges. About a dozen police officers attended, but by late afternoon there was no repeat of the arrests of past week.

Campaigners used the march to announce the results of a door-to-door survey of the village. They claim to have found 85% of residents against fracking. The figure is close to the 82% results of a similar survey by the local council.

"Its all very surreal having this suddenly on your doorstep," said Beth Sanderson, 40, there with her young daughter. "It's quite a conservative village, but people are bonding over this and are prepared to make it a political issue. Maybe if our politicians realise we are prepared to make this an issue that we will be voting on, they might start to listen."