A BLOCKADE at Dart Energy’s Fullerton Cove site that lasted nine days has ended with two arrests and 10 fines.
Fullerton Cove residents Lisa McDonald and Julie Wood were arrested yesterday after locking themselves onto a tractor yesterday and defying a police direction to leave the area.
They were cut loose by Police Rescue hours after Ms McDonald’s 95-year-old grandmother Linda Reynolds accepted a $200 fine to stand her ground.
‘‘My granddaughter is tied up over there ... I’m staying with her,’’ Ms Reynolds said.
Newcastle Greens lord mayoral candidate John Sutton was also fined for remaining at the protest site, a move he said was in support of the protesters.
‘‘This is a really important battle that will be watched right around Australia,’’ Mr Sutton said.
‘‘We’re right at the coalface of the emergence of a major new industry.’’
A major police operation broke the blockade in its ninth day, restoring Dart Energy’s access to the Fullerton Cove Road property where they have approval to build two pilot wells.
Port Stephens Acting Superintendent Trevor Shiels said police would have preferred a resolution without the need for a large-scale intervention, but the majority of protesters co-operated with police.
‘‘We’d ask all the protesters to exercise common sense and do the same,’’ Acting Superintendent Shiels said.
‘‘I don’t wish to escalate any police response and if we could have achieved our goals without that it would have been preferable.’’
Protesters said they planned to move their demonstration to a site opposite the property and keep up the fight.
Fullerton Cove Residents Action Group spokesman Lindsay Clout said protesters agreed to move at police request yesterday to demonstrate their protest was peaceful.
‘‘We did not want to see any further arrests,’’ Mr Clout said.
Dart Energy Australia chief executive Robbert de Weijer thanked the police for their efforts to restore access after ‘‘several attempts to resolve the situation’’.
“We respect the right of protesters to voice their views peacefully and safely but the protest became an illegal blockade preventing us from completing our lawful, approved work,” Mr de Weijer said.
‘‘Dart was entitled to ensure safe access to our site with full agreement from the landholder.’’
A company spokesman said Dart aimed to recommence work as soon as possible and would keep engaging with the community.
Video filmed by Dean Osland. Produced by Amy Spear.