Australian police have issued protestors at the Bentley protest camp in New South Wales (NSW) with an order to vacate the private property on which they have camped.
The protestors are campaigning against scheduled exploratory drilling for coalbed methane (CBM).
Metgasco owns the area adjacent to the site in which the protestors are camped, and has plans to begin drilling for CBM as soon as possible.
The protest camp was established in February and, despite the order from police, the anti-CBM activists have vowed to stay in place.
The local council wants to evict the protestors by Saturday. Police are expected to be called to the camp if the activists do not leave. The camp is a temporary home to between hundreds and thousands of people, depending on the day.
Richmond Valley Council announced that the camp’s approval will expire at the end of the week and will not be renewed due to its burgeoning numbers, the length of time it has been there, and the “ongoing breach of many of the approval conditions”.
Richmond Valley mayor, Ernie Bennett, said police would be required “for sure” to move the campers on.
Bennett said the protestors had welded gates shut, dug trenches through public roads, erected their own road signs and had insufficient toilet and washing facilities to continue living there.
"Our main concern is everybody's safety," Bennett said. He stressed that the council was "neutral" when it came to the issue of CBM mining.
"Some of the protesters I don't have a problem with," he said. "People have a right to protest. But let's not just take the law into our own hands and do what some of them do."
If the site is moved, it will likely come as a blow to the ‘Lock the gate’ campaign group, which has been set up to protest against proposed CBM sites.
Image courtesy of 'Lock the gate alliance'.
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/cbm/24042014/cbm_protestors_told_to_leave_site_cbm11/