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Metgasco secures drilling rig at Doubtful Creek

UPDATE 3.40PM:

METGASCO has succeeded in getting its drill rig onto the company's Doubtful creek site following a five hour police operation to secure the area.

The rig and associated heavy equipment were transported onto the site by some 15 semi-trailers shortly after 2pm today.

Police have now reopened the section of Knights road and the crowd of more than 320 protesters have stared to disperse.

One women sustained head injuries during an intensive police operation to clear the road of protestors. She has since been taken to hospital by ambulance.

UPDATE 3PM:

LOCK the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton has been arrested at the Doubtful Creek blockade near Kyogle this afternoon.

Mr Hutton joined other protesters sitting on the road leading into the coal seam gas drilling site about 2pm, just prior to the arrival of Metgasco's drill rig.

"I'm here in solidarity with the people of the Northern Rivers and I'm happy to be arrested alongside these brave people. There are times when the most honourable place to be is in jail" Mr Hutton said.

"When governments refuse to accept responsibility on important issues like coal seam gas, it is up to the community to put an end to this sort of madness."

Mr Hutton was issued a penalty infringement notice by police and released shortly after.

UPDATE 1.45PM:

POLICE have now detained five people at the Doubtful Creek CSG blockade.

Officers detained a member of the Knitting Nanas Against Gas after she was removed from a sitting tripod by members of the Police Rescue Unit with a cherry picker.

The tripod bulldozed by police straight afterwards.

Protester numbers have swelled to approximately 350 while police numbers are estimated to be at close to 50.

Richmond Local Area Command duty officer, Inspector Nicole Bruce, would not disclose police numbers. She continued to address the crowd warning that those who did not comply with police directions would be arrested.

A spokesperson for Lock the Gate Northern Rivers said members were out on the road monitoring the progress of the Metgasco drill rig currently being transported to Doubtful Creek from Glenugie south of Grafton - the site of last month's anti-CSG protests.

Members have been posting the whereabouts of the rig on Facebook and encouraging people to join the procession ahead of it.

"The Convoy is on the Move! Heading North from Grafton on the Pacific Highway," one post read.

"Cyclone Metgasco bringing destruction in it's path! If you see a drill rig behind you, drive slow, those things are dangerous!"

The rig has now passed Casino escorted by a number of police vehicles and is expected at Doubtful Creek any time now.

About 30 police Operational Support Officers have stepped up crowd control at the Doubtful Creek site, moving protesters away from the entrance in preparation for the rig's arrival.

Police have closed the public road leading to the drilling site to all traffic including pedestrians.

Lock the Gate president addressed the crowd just after fifth arrest about midday. He continued to endorse non-violent principles of protest, supporting the use of non-violent civil disobedience because the, "State Government has failed us".

 

UPDATE 12.10PM

FOUR people have now been arrested at Doubtful Creek, including locked-on protester Naomi Tarrant who had chained herself to the ground underneath a car.

Police Rescue Unit officers had to remove the car safely from the area before extracting Ms Tarrant from a so-called "dragon" - a metal pipe inserted in the ground into which her arm was locked.

Ms Tarrant was cheered by her fellow CSG protesters while being led away to a police paddy wagon just after 11am.

Police have now blocked off the section of Knights Rd south of the protest site and refused entry to all, even those on foot.

Benny Zable
Benny Zable

A Knitting Nanna against Gas continues to knit on a suspended platform above the entrance to the site, while protester and performance artist Benny Zable stands on a vehicle parked in front of the gates.

The blockade is being gradually dismantled by police while onlookers sing merry protest songs.

A police media spokesperson said the main objectives of police were to allow Metgasco vehicles their "legal right to access to the site" and to ensure the safety of protesters.

 

UPDATE10.55AM:

OVERALL clad police have surrounded the heavily blockaded entrance to Metgasco's drilling site at Doubtful Creek and arrested three protesters so far.

Officers from the Police Rescue Squad were called in to extract one protester dug-in to a tunnel under the road. Following his arrest, two more protesters were arrested for trespassing.

Police at the Doubtful Creek set to extracting a dug-in protester.
Police at the Doubtful Creek set to extracting a dug-in protester.

 

Forward commander, Inspector Nicole Bruce, addressed the crowd of protesters massing around the entrance to the site a few moments ago, reiterating their right to peaceful protest but asking them to respond to police orders or face arrest.

Police are now dismantling protest installations and clearing the site ahead of the arrival of Metgasco's drilling rig, expected later today.

The majority of protesters are milling about the area, conversing with one another, watching and waiting. Lock the Gate spokesman Drew Hutton is also in attendance.

 

EARLIER 9.40AM:

THE DOUBTFUL Creek CSG blockade has grown again today with more than 300 protesters gathering on site early this morning.

One protester is currently 'dug-in' inside a crudely constructed tunnel built directly under the road leading to the drilling site and reinforced with logs.

After three days of blockading, a tense atmosphere has taken hold at the site. Two busloads of police from Casino have just arrived at Doubtful Creek.

Approximately 300 protesters and an estimated 30 police at the Doubtful Creek CSG blockade await the arrival of Metgasco&squot;s drilling rig, currently en route from the Glenugie CSG site near Grafton.
Approximately 300 protesters and an estimated 30 police at the Doubtful Creek CSG blockade await the arrival of Metgasco&squot;s drilling rig, currently en route from the Glenugie CSG site near Grafton.

 

After establishing a command post at the entrance to Metgasco's drilling site, the estimated 30 officers are proceeding to move protesters slowly up the road away from the site entrance.

Chief Inspector Col Green of the Police Media Unit said police had drawn on local resources and officers from across the Northern Region.

"A number of police have been deployed from the Richmond LAC and the Northern Region to ensure the safety of protesters and allow lawful access to the site," he said.

Metgasco's drilling rig was hauled out of the Glenugie CSG site in the Clarence Valley around 8am this morning after police closed the road to the site and moved protesters away from the area about 4am this morning.

The rig is expected to arrive at Doubtful Creek sometime this morning.

More updates as they come to hand.

Topics:  coal seam gas doubtful creek police



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