Judge dismisses climate protest charges

Climate protesters blocked a train line used to transport coal to the Bayswater power station. Muswellbrook, December. Photo: Cl

A magistrate dismissed charges against 49 climate activists on June 16. The protesters had committed non-violent civil disobedience at a climate camp against a new coal-fired power station being built in the Hunter Valley.

The charges related to an action on December 6 at the NSW climate camp near the Bayswater Power Station in the Hunter Valley — Australia’s single largest source of carbon pollution.

The ruling means they have no conviction recorded, no criminal record and their fines dropped.

The magistrate noted those appealing the conviction all demonstrated community spirit and a commitment to social justice and the environment. The court found them to be “impressive and remarkable individuals”.

The magistrate said the protesters do not pose a threat to the community, and instead are of good character, representing community concerns around coal and climate change.

Newcastle resident Naomi Hogan said the group was motivated by their concern about coal expansion. She said: “Those who appealed the conviction in court today are everyday people who are very concerned about climate change and the negative health impacts of coal. We do not want to see a new coal fired power station built at Bayswater.

“Taking illegal action on the track that day was very out of character for us. We are people who volunteer in our communities, and we are teachers, tradies, parents and students.

“But the threat of climate change and a new coal-fired power plant was too great for us to sit back — we had to act.”

One hundred and thirty people occupied the train line transporting coal to the power station. They were all arrested and charged with trespass.

In January, 73 people were fined the minimum charge of $250 after the magistrate took into account the outstanding character of the defendants and their genuine concern about the impacts of climate change.

[Abridged from Sydney Indymedia.]

Comments

The Magistrate did not dismiss the charges.

The Magistrate reaffirmed the finding of guilt and directed that no conviction be recorded.

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