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.

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