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82 arrested trying to protect Leard Forest from coal-mining north NSW, Australia

Today, June 4, 2014 there was a Snap rally to protest at Mining giant Whitehaven Coal is sending an army of bulldozers to flatten the ancient Leard Forest located in the North West of New South Wales. The rally took place at midday at Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney. Dozens of protesters at Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek Mine have been arrested. A total of 82 protesters have been arrested and removed from Leard State Forest.

Leard Blockade: Police move in on protesters at Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine

Dozens of protesters have been arrested at Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine, near Boggabri in north-west New South Wales.

Police confirmed they entered the Leard State Forest this morning and occupied trucks, scrapers and road rollers to stop mine workers from clearing the land.

Click here for Videos of past Leard Forest blockade actions

A total of 82 protesters were arrested and removed from the site.

Police say the charges relate to hindering the working of mining equipment, entering and remaining on enclosed lands without reasonable excuse, and resisting arrest.

Melbourne protester Phil Evans from the Leard Forest Alliance says police moved in about 10:00am (AEDT).

"The police have come along and we've had some folks, especially some of the older folks in our crew sitting down on the ground on chairs and they've actually been arrested, including our oldest member, 92-year-old Bill Ryan, who is a World War II Kokoda veteran," he said.

"I'm actually about four metres up off the ground on top of a machine at the moment.

"I would say there's probably around 20-25 police on site and I can actually see nine vehicles along with a very large police van obviously for transporting multiple people."

The protesters say the mine employees remain on site but no work has been done today.

However a Whitehaven spokesman says the protest has not disrupted work on the mine.

The protesters say on top of the arrests there have been 10 to 12 personal infringement notices issued which carry a fine of $350 each.

Those arrested have been issued with court attendance notices for the 29th of April.

Whitehaven received final government approval for its open-cut mine project at Maules Creek in February last year.


Photo: Protesters occupying vehicles at the Maules Creek mine, owned by Whitehaven Coal, near Boggabri in northern New South Wales.

The video here is from an earlier protest in October 2013.

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Leard Forest is the home to countless native animals hibernating for winter, but could soon become a monster new coal mine.

Politicians have decided to cozy up to Big Coal and all but ignore the devastating impact this coal mine would have on locals, native animals, and our global climate.

AND: email The NSW Environment Minister, Rob Stokes, and ask to stop this madness right now on OR you can phone him on (02) 9228 5253

Greenpeace: Petition to save Leard Forest

Whitehaven Coal yesterday announced it would halt its clearing of Leard State Forest until September following an injunction in the NSW Land and Environment Court by the Maules Creek Community Council.

Whitehaven maintains its clearing licence was granted by the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment in approved to changes to its Environment Management Plan, which permits clearing until the end of June.

The Maules Creek Community Council is arguing that Whitehaven is in breach of its development consent by winter/spring clearing of the forest. A breach of development consent contravenes the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

EDO argued the winter forest clearing, which is typically prohibited in the region, would include 624ha of rare forest such as the Box-Gum Woodland, which provides habitat for threatened species including koalas, the Swift parrot, bats and the Regent honeyeater.

Whitehaven said it had been undertaking authorised clearance activities at Maules Creek in accordance with the "biodiversity management plan" approved by the NSW DPE. It said it plans to defend the litigation in September.