THREE people have been arrested following an operation to clear a roadside protest camp.
Two women and one man have been arrested today on suspicion of aggravated trespass at the camp next to the A692 between Leadgate and Dipton.
Several protesters remain at the site, including two who have scaled a tree on the edge of the field, and two who are locked-on underground.
Police and bailiffs will remain at the scene throughout the night and work to extricate the remaining protesters will resume tomorrow morning.
Bailiffs acting on behalf of developers The Banks Group are trying to secure land next to the A692 which has been awarded planning permission to operate as an opencast site.
Around 50 officers from Durham Constabulary, working alongside staff from Durham County Council, took part in today’s operation to dismantle the protest camp, which was constructed at the side of the road and was obstructing both the highway and access to the opencast site.
A section of the A692 which was temporarily closed during the morning for safety reasons, reopened in time for evening rush-hour.
Chief inspector Richie Allen, of Durham Constabulary, said: “I would like to thank the local community for their patience during today’s operation.
“It is a busy road and we didn’t take the decision to close it lightly, but our paramount concern has got to be the safety of everyone, the public, the protesters and the police and council staff working at the scene.
“We have been dealing with very determined and very organised protesters.
“Activity to remove the last of the protesters will continue into tomorrow.
“At this moment in time, it is not anticipated that we will need to close the road to do this”.