About 250 people gathered at the Leard State Forest in northern NSW from February 13 and 18 to stop Whitehaven Coal clearing the forest to make way for its proposed Maules Creek coalmine.
The project has been plagued by protest for more than two years and more than 300 people have been arrested, including farmer Rick Laird and former Wallabies captain David Pocock.
Protesters are concerned about the environmental impacts the mine will have on the surrounding forest, which comprises some of the last intact critically endangered box-gum woodland left on earth. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s assessment of the project has described the forest as “irreplaceable”.
The new mine is the largest coal mine under construction in Australia. It is projected to mine 13 million tonnes of coal a year over 30 years. Greenpeace estimate it will emit about 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year, at a time when Australia needs to phase out the production of fossil fuels.
Protesters participated in several actions during the week, including twelve people locking on to bulldozers and a rally of several hundred people at the mine gates. Other activities were held during the week, including workshops, music and skillshares.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Ros Druce said: “There is a state election in six weeks, and [NSW Premier] Mike Baird needs to know that the unfinished business of mining reform in NSW will haunt his government until it is resolved.
“There are precious remnant woodlands proposed to be cleared for coal mines elsewhere in NSW, and other communities fighting large new mines as big as this one. The thousands of people that have come to Maules Creek will now spread out across the state and they will never let the coal industry and the NSW government do this again.”
For more information about the campaign, click here.
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