Protesters have clashed with police as roadworks began in country Victoria.

There was a strong police presence along the Western Highway on Tuesday, as highway construction work began between Buangor and Ararat.

Senior Traditional Owner Sandra Onus said after news spread that police were moving in to break up a community blockade at the site, more than 150 people joined the protest and put their bodies on the line to stop work.

The latest clash comes after several lengthy delays to the project.

Activists first set up camp at the site in June 2018 due to Aboriginal heritage concerns.

“The existing freeway easement will destroy trees that have been culturally modified and used for traditional cultural practice for up to eight hundred years,” Aunty Sandra Onus said.

“They are of enormous cultural value to Tjabwurrung people.

“As we have been saying now for over two years, an alternative must be found that will not destroy outstanding natural and cultural values.”

Police confirmed there would be a dedicated police presence along the highway all week, which would include support from Highway Patrol Operations Response Unit, Dog Squad and Mounted Branch.

“Victoria Police respects people’s right to protest peacefully, but will not tolerate those who break the law and simply won’t tolerate any anti-social behaviour or violence,” a spokeswoman said.