[Update 2pm:] A further two men have been charged this morning while attempting to lock on to a work vehicle at a protest near an AGL coal seam gas site in Gloucester. This follows two arrests yesterday.
According to a police report, at about 6.40am today (October 28 ) officers from Manning Great Lakes Local Area Command arrested the men aged 29 and 26, attempting to lock on to the vehicle at the main gate entry on Fairbairns Road where a number of protestors were gathered.
Police arrested the men, before the lock was secured.
The men were taken to Gloucester Police Station and charged with wilfully preventing free passage of vehicle.
Both men are expected to appear in Taree Local Court on 15 December 2014.
[Original report:] Officers attached to Manning Great Lakes Local Area Command were called to the site around 5.30am yesterday after report of protest activity.
Police found two men had allegedly illegally accessed the site.
The pair, aged 37 and 44, was arrested and charged with trespass.
They have been granted conditional bail and will appear at Taree Local Court on 11 November 2014.
Police said in a statement that the first priority for NSW Police was public safety. ‘Protesters have the right to safely protest within the boundaries of the law,’ police said.
‘Equally, the rights of citizens to hold peaceful assemblies is balanced with other rights, including the undertaking of lawful business activities, and the safety and security of the broad community and those working on the site.
‘Police will balance the needs of all parties involved, while maintaining law and order.’
Meanwhile, farmers, environmentalists, Indigenous and religious leaders are expected to rally outside coal mining company Whitehaven’s annual general meeting in Sydney today.
The protesters include representatives from the Gomeroi people, Greenpeace, 350.org and an amalgamated religious group.
Protesters have for months been agitating at several Whitehaven sites across NSW and in September members of the Leard Forest Alliance said every open-cut mine in the Gunnedah basin, including Maules Creek, had been shut down because of their action.
Whitehaven said the claims were false.