MOUNTED police charged Roe 8 protestors on Thursday morning, leaving two trampled and injured.
The protestors had been told by police they could sit outside a fence along the route of the highway extension where bushland is being cleared, but shortly afterwards two officers on horses charged the group without warning.
“I was sitting down in front of the fence peacefully, and without warning was charged head on by officers on horseback,” says Billy Amesz, a Wetlands Defender.
“I was kneed in the face by the horse. It was completely unexpected and unnecessary and I had nowhere to move because I was between the horse and the fence.
“It was very scary moment because I didn’t have any means of escape and wasn’t given any warning.”
During the day another 30 protestors were arrested, most having got inside the fence line.
The Herald asked the police why the officers charged, but didn’t get a response before deadline.
Asbestos fears were raised earlier this week, with the Coolbellup Concerned Residents group highlighting soil analysis by Envirolabs which found 80 per cent of 43 samples taken from the Coolbellup side of the Roe route contained the deadly fibres.
Main Roads confirmed asbestos was found at two locations and management plans were implemented. Worksafe investigated the site Tuesday and gave the all clear.
“Regular testing for contaminants is carried out on the construction site throughout the project and in the interest of health and safety, air quality and dust deposition monitors are in place during clearing operations to protect workers and the public,” Main Roads said in a release.
Labor Fremantle MP Simone McGurk says the Asbestos Diseases Society has offered to undertake an independent evaluation of the site.
“I think it would provide local residents with much needed comfort,” she says.
Meanwhile, Cockburn council has given approval for protestors to camp on two reserves after the state government kicked them out of their original site on North Lake Road.
Cockburn CEO Stephen Cain says the council has been opposed to Roe 8 since 2001 and sympathised with peacefully protestors, so was allowing them to camp on Bassett Reserve in Bibra Lake on land fronting Progress Drive near the Hope Road intersection.
“This decision will prevent protesters from camping illegally, or choosing other sites possibly less acceptable due to proximity to residents and Bibra Lake regional playground,” says Mr Cain.
He says campers will have to keep the area clean and tidy.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK