A further blockade of the Whian Whian logging site this morning (Saturday September 28) has resulted in a second agreement between the Forestry NSW and the local community allowing habitat surveys to continue.
Members of the local Branch Creek community blockaded the access road to the private logging site this morning from 7.30, meaning loggers were unable to gain access.
Protesters requested independent experts be allowed to continue their habitat and koala surveys, commenced yesterday, to continue today, according to local resident Patrick Tatam.
‘Police arrived 10.45am and attempted to break up the blockade,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘An agreement was finally signed between representatives of the Branch Creek community and NSW Forestry Corporation at about 11.45, which means Forestry can go in and remove two truckloads of lumber today and two more tomorrow from the stockpile already felled. No more trees will be felled over the weekend.
‘Meanwhile, the independent surveys can continue today,’ he said
Mr Tatam added that the highly qualified botanists and ecologist conducting surveys were hoping to finish their work by 4pm today.
Friday 26 September
Protesters at a logging operation on private land on Whian Whian Road have reached an agreement with the Forestry Corporation this morning to enable access to the property by two renowned local botanists and a highly qualified biologist on behalf of the community and have their survey results incorporated in the forestry plan for the site.
In return the protesters have agreed to allow one full truck of logs to be transported out of the site today, but no further logging work will be undertaken on the property before tomorrow.
Under the terms of the agreement, a copy of which has been sighted by Echonetdaily, the Forestry Corporation agrees that: no further trees will be felled on Friday September 27 2013; independent and transparent surveys by Hugh and Nan Nicholson and Rob Kooyman for flora and koalas may be undertaken from 9am in company with Forestry Corporation staff; to incorporate the results into the harvesting plan and apply the appropriate prescriptions; to remove one load of logs (approx 23 sq m); there will be no harvesting on Ludwig Miranda’s property at any time.
The community agrees: to allow unhindered access and egress to and from the Edrich/Helle property for Forestry Corporation and its contractors and agents; to allowing snigging of sufficient logs to make up one full load of logs if necessary; to resume haulage through Ludwig Miranda’s property as soon as possible.
The agreement follows 24 hours of escalated tension at the site, during which a man sitting on a bamboo tripod on the access track was removed by police and a local resident alleges he was ‘driven at’ by a police vehicle.
Echonetdaily photographer Jeff Dawson, who witnessed the man’s removal, said police lifted the legs of the tripod and ‘tipped him out’. He added that they ‘threw him a rope’ beforehand.
Photos Jeff Dawson and Marie Cameron
Inspector Nicole Bruce from Richmond Local Area Command told local media the man was not injured in the removal.
‘It was a very difficult operation for police to try to get him down successfully without injury to themselves and the protester,’ she told ABC radio this morning.
‘It’s quite rugged terrain. Obviously having machinery working around in the area there’s quite strict OH&S legislation surrounding the activity and he placed himself in quite a dangerous situation.’
The man was arrested and later released on bail at Lismore Local Court yesterday on the condition he not return to the area.
Locals have hailed him as a hero and claimed it is the police who have been endangering protesters.
Patrick Tatam, who lives next door to the property where logging is taking place, told Echonetdaily a police car drove ‘within centimetres’ of his foot.
‘I stood one metre out from my fencepost dividing the entrance of my place and the logging owner’s place yesterday afternoon and [a police vehicle] steered towards me, missing me by less than five centimetres. I am a JP, and am quite prepared to draft a Statutory Declaration to this effect,’ he told Echonetdaily.
Mr Tatam said he is considering lodging a complaint against police over the incident.
He is also concerned that the size and weight of the trucks could damage Whian Whian Road.
‘The trucks used to carry out the felled trees will carry up to ten each, which will gross in excess of 4,000 tonnes, and that will tear up the local gravel road irreparably,’ he said.
‘They will probably fracture or demolish the two lightweight creek-crossing culverts, as well as the crossover above two large concrete pipes just outside our place.
‘The removal of the trees will also create a massive silting up of Branch Creek, which is our (and our neighbours’) only water supply.’