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  1. ITV Report

Five arrested at County Durham protest camp

A total of five people have been arrested as police and bailiffs continue the fight to move opencast mine protesters in County Durham.

The protest, located between the villages of Dipton and Leadgate, has been going on for more than 24 hours. Activists from the Pont Valley Protection Camp are campaigning against planning permission to operate an opencast mine.

Four women and one man have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass since the operation began on Thursday morning. One of the women arrested has also been questioned on suspicion of assault.

Two protesters remain on the site, having scaled a tree on the edge of the site. Efforts to safely remove them are continuing.

Bailiffs acting on behalf of developers The Banks Group are trying to clear the land next to the A692 where the firm will mine half a million tonnes of coal.

A specialist climbing team has been called in to try and remove the remaining protesters who are still up a tree at the demonstration.

Campaigners were chained to underground pipes, down holes, dangling from a tree in a wheelchair and sat on top of a makeshift metal platform for hours during the stand off with police.

Officers from Durham Constabulary remain on the scene and are continuing an operation to extricate the protestors.

The latest situation is that we have five people arrested — three woman and two men — and we understand there are still two protesters on the site.

Two people abandoned their posts during the night and have left the scene. The road is now open.

– Durham Constabulary

Durham County Council's strategic highways manager released the following statement:

The Banks Group has lawful authority to start work on the site which involves moving various utilities located under the verge and widening the road to form an entrance to the site. The protest camp is located directly where this work needs to be completed.

We asked the protestors to move but as they failed to do so the police and the council used our powers to remove obstructions to the highway in order to allow work to commence.

– Brian Buckley, Durham County Council