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$4M spent on policing shale gas protests was necessary: N.B. finance minister

New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs talks during a pre-budget news conference in Fredericton on March 22, 2011. David Smith/The Canadian Press

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s finance minister says is unfortunate the province has had to spend an additional $4 million on policing to deal with protests against shale gas exploration.

However, Blaine Higgs says the provincial government has to step in when there is unlawful activity.

READ MORE: Complete coverage of shale gas protests in New Brunswick

An anti-shale gas protest near Rexton turned violent in October when police enforced an injunction to halt the blockade of a equipment compound.

Forty people were arrested and six police vehicles burned.

The protesters say their blockade was peaceful until police showed up.

Public Safety Minister Bruce Northrup is defending the police action, saying officers discovered weapons among the protesters.

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The exploration company, SWN Resources, has since been granted another injunction that provides a buffer zone around its equipment.

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