Twelve people have been arrested as around 150 protesters at a coal-seam gas (CSG) mining blockade at Glenugie in the Clarence Valley this morning dug in to disrupt drilling rigs and machinery expected to move in.
One protester has locked on to a convoy truck, another continues to sit on a tree platform, one is hanging from a suspended aerial wire, and two are attached to devices in the ground barring access to the site.
Around 40 police, including the tactical response group, have gathered at the site just south of Grafton this morning and set up a command post.
Police have already asked protesters to ‘move on’.
The last time mining trucks tried to enter the property, a protester locked herself onto one, forcing police to step in.
Over the weekend, a call went out by Lock the Gate campaigners for people to join the peaceful roadside camp and protest which has been blockading the Metgasco CSG site for six weeks.
Organisers expect the company to start exploratory drilling any day soon.
The heavy police presence is there to escort drilling-equipment trucks into the property this week.
Supporters of the protest have answered a call to bolster the blockade, with numbers there now estimated at more than 150.
Other protesters are also keeping a watch on drilling truck movements Metgasco’s office in Casino.
John Edwards of Clarence Valley Alliance Against CSG said the region’s opposition to CSG was getting stronger by the day.
‘This is a mass social movement now. I think people realise we have to stop gasfields before they start,’ he said.
‘We don’t want our wetlands and rivers bubbling methane and we don’t want our families getting sick like in Tara, Queensland.”
Glenugie local Naomi Lean said the roadside camp and protest has been in place since Metgasco arrived with earthmoving equipment to prepare a drill site on 20 November.
‘A critical turning point in the blockade came on 10 December when the community turned out in huge numbers and Metgasco was unable to bring drilling equipment onto the site. Since then, the Queensland drill rig and other gear have been idle in Metgasco’s yard at Casino,’ Naomi told Echonetdaily.
‘I’m so proud of the way in which our community has come together to protect our land and water from the threat of coal seam gas.
‘From the day when local resident Deb Whitley locked on to a truck, to when one hundred people singing Christmas carols bravely blocked entrance to the site, there have been many memorable moments.
‘It is amazing to see such courage, ingenuity and strong community spirit on show and how more and more people are getting involved every day,’ Ms Whitley said.
Denise Deane, of Yuraygir Coast and Range Alliance Against Coal Seam Gas, said ‘this sustained and determined peaceful protest has been an outstanding success-it has brought our community together and raised awareness about the risks of coal seam gas across the whole Clarence Valley and beyond.
‘The majority of the population are opposed to invasive gas fields and we are prepared to stand up and protect what we love in the face of our politician’s failure to do so.
‘It may take more blockades like this one but we will win in the long run, we’re in for the long haul.’