Work on the controversial Maules Creek coal mine near Boggabri has been stopped for the second time this week, as locals and supporters, many from the northern rivers, continued to blockade the site.
Around 20 protesters, including one attached to the top of a large pole structure in the forest canopy, have managed to immobilise eleven heavy machines used for preliminary construction work on the Leard State Forest site.
Entrances to the site have also been blocked.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Emma Giles told Echonetdaily this morning the coal mine should never have been approved because the company, Whitehaven Coal, provided false information about its biodiversity offsets in order to secure federal environmental approval.
‘We call on (environment) minister Greg Hunt to immediately revoke that approval,’ Ms Giles said.
‘The truth is it’s impossible to offset the loss of this irreplaceable biodiversity hotspot,’ she said.
‘The 1,100 hectares of forest this mine wants to clear is home to a critically endangered ecosystem, and the dodgy “offsets” that Whitehaven are planning cannot replace its loss.’
The campaign to stop the Maules Creek coal mine has brought together local residents and farmers, environmentalists and traditional owners.
The blockade, now in its third week, has also drawn international attention.
‘It has shone a light on the broader struggle of communities across Australia, battling to protect their land, water, and future from coal mining,’ Ms Giles said.
‘We will continue that fight this mine. The support that we are receiving from around the country, and the world, is a big encouragement.’
Meanwhile, blockade campaigners paid an impromptu visit to the offices of Whitehaven Coal in Boggabri on Wednesday urging the release of the independent review of the company’s offsets plan for the mine.
A blockade spokesperson, Phil Spark, said condition 10 of the approval under the EPBC (Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation) Act required Whitehaven coal to publish the review.
‘This independent review was completed in December 2013 and both Whitehaven and the federal government have denied conservation groups and citizens access to the document,’ Mr Sparks said.
‘Former environment minister Tony Burke’s approval conditions have not been met.’