Nineteen demonstrators have been arrested since October 21 in protests against the recent approval of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Gloucester Valley, New South Wales.
Police figures obtained by Green Left Weekly said charges range from trepassing, to individuals locking on to machinery or the buses transporting workers to the site.
Fracking is the controversial process of extracting gas from underground coal seams and shale deposits by using high pressure to inject it with a chemical-water mixture.
The end product contributes to greenhouse gases and releases methane during extraction, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates is 34 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts approved the fracking of the Gloucester Valley wells by coal seam gas (CSG) company AGL in August.
This led to protests from Gloucester residents, who say they were not properly consulted on the issue. They formed the Gloucester Protection amp, opened on October 27.
A spokesperson for the Gloucester Protection Camp said: “We are opposed to the threats posed to the water supplies, the industrialisation of the farm land and the countryside and the impact it will have on local communities.”
One of the camp managers, Roger Marmion, a teacher at the local Gloucester High School who took leave to join the camp, told Green Left Weekly: “I care about the fact that I don’t want to be working in an environment or a town with hospitals and nursing homes within five kilometres of the drill site and if they go ahead with 110 wells in stage one, they will be even closer to where I work.”
As well as 110 gas wells permitted under stage one — which could rise to 230 in stages two and three — AGL plans to build roads, pipes and a gas-fired electricity generating facility.
Despite the arrests, Marmion said the mood was upbeat at the camp. But he said: “The police have tried to frustrate the protest by getting the council to errect "no stopping" signs, so when people want to head down to protest they have to park their cars and walk to the site. So we have a shuttle service to take people down to the site.”
The spokesperson for the camp said: “We want to have as much of an impact as we can on the wider community, the people of Gloucester and AGL, so that they don’t push forward for the 110 wells that they have got proposed. This is a pilot project and we want to make it really unpopular.”
[To stay in touch with events, text your name to 0455 300 325 to be placed on the sms alert list. Or visit Gloucester Protection Camp on Facebook.]
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