DESPITE a morning dash by protesters from across the Northern Rivers to strengthen the Glenugie coal seam gas blockade, a 60-strong police force was able to clear the site to make way for a delivery of Metgasco mining equipment yesterday.
Protesters arrived from Diggers Camp, Glenugie, Minnie Water, Yamba and Wooloweyah as early as 5.30 am and were soon joined by supporters from across the Northern Rivers, swelling the number of protesters forming the blockade to over 200 as the morning unfolded.
By yesterday afternoon 18 people had been arrested, mainly for obstruction and hindering police, Coffs/Clarence Local Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Holahan said.
Overall he said the police operation had been a success as they were able to clear a path for the delivery trucks, but also because the vast majority of protesters had responded well to police orders.
Anti-coal seam gas campaigner Lynette Eggins also said the blockade had achieved its goal because it had kept a drilling rig sitting idle for a month.
"And they couldn't get in without a massive police presence", she said.
Yesterday's events were just the beginning of the community opposition that Metgasco and other coal seam gas companies could expect to face into the future, she said.
No injuries were reported by police or protesters.
Police had to cut protesters out of tripods suspended above the entrance to the site, as well as releasing them from concrete anchors buried underground.
By midday the majority of protesters had been cleared from the entrance to the mine site on Avenue Road, which had also been cordoned off by police.
- Six of the eighteen people arrested yesterday at the Glenugie blockade have refused bail conditions and remained in custody at Grafton Police Station overnight. They are expected to appear before a local magistrate in the Grafton Local Court for a bail hearing this morning.