Picture courtesy of Gloucester AdvocateRESIDENTS blockading a road near Gloucester in opposition to AGL’s coal seam gas operations should move immediately or be removed by police, Gloucester Shire mayor Geoff Slack said yesterday.
The blockade by the Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance was established last Monday on a public road at Forbesdale.
The road was the access to AGL’s pilot well-drilling site.
Cr Slack, a solicitor, said the protesters were breaking the law and he had asked the police late last week to remove them.
‘‘They are blocking a public road and should be moved on,’’ Cr Slack said. ‘‘They do not represent the rest of the community, they are not farmers,’’ he said.
Police visited the blockade on Thursday and the alliance agreed to a request to move vehicles, but maintained a human blockade.
Later that day, AGL deferred its drilling plans and offered to continue negotiations with the alliance.
The halt in operations stopped a Gloucester company building an AGL access track, a move Cr Slack says has led to the company considering standing down 25 people.
‘‘And that will flow on through the rest of the community,’’ Cr Slack said.
‘‘[The protesters] should be dealt with immediately,’’ he said.
Cr Slack said Gloucester council had given ‘‘in-principal’’ support to the Gloucester Gas Project.
The state government had approved the 110 production well, first stage of the project.
Cr Slack said the company’s activities were legal and it should be allowed to continue.
He said he had visited three other coal seam gas field sites and it was his personal opinion that if a project complied with conditions of consent it should go ahead.
All work on stage one of the gas project has halted because the alliance launched a legal challenge.
When AGL halted the pilot wells last week, it agreed there would be no further drilling until the legal challenge was resolved and an independent review of its Gloucester Gas Project water assessments was completed and published.
Alliance chairman Graeme Healy said yesterday the blockade would stay. Mr Healy said the group wanted new water assessments.
AGL said it agreed to suspend drilling and hoped the blockade would be concluded.