In a remarkable show of force yesterday, a dedicated band of about 100 Glenugie locals and their supporters managed to completely prevent drilling rigs accessing Metgasco’s CSG testing site.
People slowed down the rigs on the road to the site by walking, cycling and driving slowly in the middle of the road, making it a long, slow haul for the Roma-based drilling rigs.
In one of the more dangerous moments yesterday morning, a protester had his bicycle smashed when it was run over by one of the rigs. Fortunately the man himself was not injured.
A woman lay in front of the approaching vehicles and refused to move. Police subsequently forcibly removed her but no charges were laid.
The community members entered into the seasonal spirit with a Christmas tree placed in the entrance to the drill site. Dozens of people sat on the driveway around the tree singing Christmas carols.
Metgasco vehicles and equipment arrived at the site with a police escort. Police asked people to move cars that were blocking the site, which was done.
Echonetdaily understands that as a truck carrying a large generator, which was ahead of the rigs, approached the drill site the drivers took out bolt cutters with the intention of cutting a hole in the fence to gain access.
But after a conversation with the police, the drivers turned their rigs around and returned to Metgasco’s base at Casino.
‘They stayed for about half an hour but weren’t prepared to break the barricade today,’ Lock the Gate Northern Rivers co-coordinator Boudicca Cerese told Echonetdaily last night.
‘It was an amazing example of the community coming together to protect our land and water in the face of complete failure of government. There was a very strong, vibrant and positive vibe among the people today, and a great deal of strength and determination not to let this industry go ahead.
‘It’s up to us now and people are prepared to step up and be creative and determined in these kind of peaceful actions.’
She added that there was great camaraderie and show of support from across the region for the local people.
‘We have been forced to take this protest action because the government’s land-use policies fail to protect our local environment and safeguard the health of our community,’ said local resident Sarah Fletcher.
‘We will continue to blockade the site to show our opposition to Metgasco’s operations,’ said Denise Deane of Yuraygir Coast and Range Alliance.
President to join protest
President of Lock the Gate, Drew Hutton, has announced he will join the protest today.
Mr Hutton said he expected Metgasco to attempt to enter the site in the morning with more drilling equipment and accompanied by a larger police presence.
‘A large group of northern rivers residents, who are committed to non-violent civil disobedience to protect the community from this industry, are expected to be present at the gate of the property in the morning,’ Mr Hutton said.
‘The whole of the northern rivers is committed to stopping coal-seam gas from destroying their region so this will be the first of many blockades we will see in this part of the state.’
Readers wishing to join the protest at the Glenugie site should follow these driving instructions:
Drive through Grafton to South Grafton, then turn right (south) onto the highway (as if you were going to Coffs Harbour). Eight Mile Lane is about 13km from Grafton (ie 8 miles). It is clearly signposted as the turnoff to Wooli and Minnie Water. On Google Maps, Avenue Road is called ‘Golden Mile Road’. The site is on your left, about 1.3km from the corner of Avenue Road with Eight Mile Lane.