Marie Cameron and staff reporters
Drill rigs left Metgasco’s Doubtful Creek test drilling site yesterday afternoon as the company sets about mothballing its operations for the future.
Three people were arrested when ‘earth protectors’ on the blockade’s frontline put on a final show of force, including several locked on to the ‘Githabul Growler’, an old car that had been attached to a concrete block in front of the main exit.
The final day of the Doubtful Creek Protest started with an early morning red alert. Police arrived just after 5am in unmarked cars with the lights off.
As protesters were in a smoking ceremony the police rushed the Githabul Growler. The three protesters (one woman and 2 men) who were organized to lock on to the inside of the vehicle scrambled in and connected their locks with seconds to spare.
Police closed off Knights Road from both directions preventing people from driving to the site. For a short time people were able to walk in but very quickly police closed off all access.
The 40 strong police force took control of the protest and restricted people’s movement to confined areas. The gate and front fence of Eden Forest were removed and heavy earth moving equipment carrying rock and earth were brought in. As a makeshift road was built around the Githabul Growler the police rescue squad began their protester removal process.
First to be released was the woman, followed by simmo-Marty leaving the man with the most difficult lock-on. He was positioned on the front passenger floor and had his arm threaded through a hole in the floor and down into the ground. To get him out police had to first cut the car away from his arm and then push the car back to expose his ground lock. After almost five hours the last simmo was taken away. The Githabul Growler, the final symbol of blockade resistance was pick up and unceremoniously dumped to the side road to be finished off with some heavy duty flattening techniques. All that was left was a battered and twisted mess of metal.
Once the entry was clear the final road repair went into hyper drive until a front tyre on the back hoe blew out causing protesters great joy. Hours later Metgasco’s equipment started to roll out and the police held tight control of the protesters as they prepared to give the drill the collective boot. Two of the simmos arrived back with charges of resisting an order to move and blocking a road way. The final simmo was on bail from protest offences at Glenugie and is to appear in the Lismore Magistrates courts this morning.
After 50 days, the Doubtful Creek blockade came to an end at 3pm yesterday but local opponents of the industry are renewing calls to other coal seam gas (CSG) miners with licences over the area to stay away.
Dart Energy warned
‘Dart Energy should think long and hard before they try to drill for CSG in the Tweed Valley’ according to Lock the Tweed spokesperson Michael McNamara.
Dart Energy recently purchased Petroleum Exploration Licence 445 (PEL445) from Arrow Energy, which covers 44,000 square kilometres from Tweed Heads in the north to Broadwater in the south and Drake (between Casino and Tenterfield) in the west.
PEL445 includes about one third of the Tweed Shire.
‘All communities in the Tweed Valley that lie within this exploration licence have declared themselves Gasfield Free’ Mr McNamara said.
‘These declarations followed a comprehensive road survey of residents seeking their views’
‘If Dart Energy decide to try to impose their operations against this wall of community opposition I am confident they will get the same reception that Metgasco received at Glenugie and Doubtful Creek recently’
‘They have no social licence to operate here’