Two protesters accused of blocking Burrup Road as part of a protest against the Scarborough gas development have defended their alleged actions, saying climate change was an “extraordinary emergency” that justified breaking the law. Elizabeth Burrows and Petrina Harley appeared before Karratha Magistrates Court on December 1 charged with failing to obey a move-on notice, unreasonably obstructing a carriageway, and obstructing a public officer. Karratha police arrested the women, along with co-accused Caleb Houseman, on November 24, 2021, after a 14-hour protest which blocked access to key industrial sites on beaches on the Burrup Peninsula in protest at Woodside’s decision to approve the Scarborough gas project. Ms Harley and Ms Burrows, who represented themselves, defended their alleged actions on the basis that climate change was an “extraordinary emergency” that justified breaking the law. The prosecutor told the court the accused were in a caravan that was attached to a vehicle, which was parked horizontally on Burrup Road to block access to Woodside infrastructure. The pair allegedly put their arms in a 44-gallon drum filled with concrete inside the caravan. Each allegedly had one arm secure in a lock-on device, consisting of a PVC pipe within the drum. The drum was also resting on the road, which prevented the caravan from being moved. Two police officers were called as witnesses for the prosecution. Karratha officer Sharn Hawkins, who was first on the scene of the protest around 4am, said she witnessed the two women sitting with one arm each inside the barrel. She said the women briefly explained there was a pole and cement inside the drum. She also described the location of the blockage. “It was after the Hearson Cove turn-off,” Ms Hawkins said. “The road narrows because of two railings at the side and it drops off to the side so you can’t fit a car around.” Pannawonica officer Dion Pavlovich was also called as a witness by the prosecution. As a qualified lock-on removalist, he said he was called to attend and arrived at the scene around 9am. The court heard that when asked how the lock-on device worked at 9.14am, the accused gave no comment. Mr Pavlovich said he deduced the top layer was a tar-type substance covered in metal objects to thwart extrication and that the bottom of the drum was pure concrete. He said a minimum of three lock-on removalists were needed — two more arrived from Perth after midday. The court heard the pair were given move-on notices around 2pm and didn’t comment on if they could self-release or how they were locked in. In body-worn footage shown to the court, at around 2.30pm Ms Harley told Mr Pavlovich her arm was swollen but didn’t comment on how the device worked. At 4.30pm, Mr Pavlovich said the accused told officers how the device worked. “They said it was a mechanism within the pipe — they had a chain wrapped around their hand and a carabiner was hooked onto a bar at the bottom of the pipe,” he said. “We cut the top of the PVC pipe to allow movement and initiate blood flow.” At 5.04pm, Ms Harley was able to self-release and was taken to hospital by St John. Thirteen minutes later, Ms Burrows was able to self-release and was also sent for a check-up. Mr Pavlovich said St John Ambulance were on the scene as soon as officers began to attempt to release the women in case of emergency. The DFES unit was also in attendance to “cut the rear of the caravan to get in”. The defence called on Murujuga traditional custodian Raelene Cooper to give evidence on damaged rock art. Karratha magistrate Cillian Stockdale questioned the relevance of hearing from Ms Cooper but allowed it as she has a “long-standing connection with that location”. “In terms of what is at issue in this trial it has tangential relevance but I’m willing to hear from her,” Magistrate Stockdale said. Ms Cooper spoke on the discolouration in the rock art she had noticed in her lifetime. “I see the changes; it has been destroyed,” she said through tears. “The rock art is so significant, it is the creation story of this place. “The rock art is disappearing.” Ms Harley then took the stand to tell her recollection of events. She said she blocked the road with the “specific intention of disrupting emissions and raising awareness” of climate change. Ms Harley said she considered the safety of workers as there was “access to a back road in case of emergency”. She said when given the move-on notice she “couldn’t comply because my arm was swollen”. Footage tendered by the prosecution did not show Ms Harley telling the officer about her inability to move on due to her swollen arm. When asked by the prosecution about when she found out about the back road, Ms Harley said she had looked at a map the evening before the protest but didn’t physically check the condition of the back road. Magistrate Stockdale adjourned the trial until January 13 and extended bail.