Update 5.30pm: Loggers are preparing to remove the first tranche of timber from a private property on Whian Whian Road under police protection after a group of forest protectors failed in their attempt earlier today to turn back the logging trucks.
Members of the Crescent Moon Protection Group sat around a broken-down van over a causeway on the narrow road for several hours this morning, holding back the logging trucks but finally abandoned their vigil owing to a local emergency.
Group spokesperson Patrick Tatam told Echonetdaily this evening that the group fears the police could become aggressive in the face of the concerted opposition of local people to the logging in an area containing a number of endangered species.
Yesterday the group said the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had broken an agreement to consult with them and its staff spent today overseeing loggers push a new road through an area of endangered species at Whian Whian.
One local told Echonetdaily he goes to work each day fearing for the safety of his wife, who is at the logging site to protest ‘the illegal operation’.
For two weeks, members of the Crescent Moon Protection Group have been conducting an action at a private property on Whian Whian Road, whose owners have an agreement with the Forestry Corporation of NSW to fell trees from an area adjacent to Nightcap National Park.
The group, together with members of the North East Forest Alliance, have identified numerous threatened species in the area and called on the EPA to protect it.
Crescent Moon spokesperson Sue James said she turned up on site yesterday (Tuesday) expecting a meeting with the EPA as agreed.
‘To my horror it was apparent that the whole vibe had changed,’ Ms James said.
‘I was told [on Tuesday] that four alternative tracks were being assessed and I would be told of the results.
‘[But] they had already decided yesterday morning that they were going to put the track through high-density koala habitat area that is also thought to contain threatened plants as well, no matter what.’
Ms James said that as she was talking to an EPA staff member, ‘I was horrified to see two large machines coming towards me. I insisted this operation was stopped as unlawful.’
When the EPA officer refused to stop the operation Ms James said she walked under the barrier and told him ‘that myself, police offices and other members of the public were now in danger and that a limb had already hit the roof of a police car parked nearby’.
‘Trees were being bulldozed right next to me.
‘I asked the police to stop this. They would not do so and let this dangerous, unlawful operation continue. It was a terrifying experience that made me realise they will stop at nothing to log this area.’