20.5 C
Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Drawing the line on Leard State Forest

Latest News

Janelle’s four year road to the 2023 vote

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of Janelle Saffin's win in the seat of Lismore and with not a minute to celebrate, Saffin spoke to The Echo about the 2023 campaign.

Other News

Political Cosplay for Fun and Profit

Costume play is not just for Trekkies and Disney fans. If you want to get anywhere in Australian politics, cosplay needs to become a vital part of your skillset.

Mediation fails over large Suffolk Park DA

The battle over a controversial mixed-used development proposed for the main street of Suffolk Park looks set to go to a full hearing in the Land and Environment Court with Byron Shire Council, after the court-ordered conciliation process failed.

Residents of Cabbage Tree Island want to go home

Anger and frustration at not being able to go home saw a group of residents reclaim their properties yesterday on Cabbage Tree Island.

Full Moon natural wine festival!

Full Moon Festival by Luna Wine Store welcomes 30 of Australia’s most exciting winemakers and natural wine importers to...

NSW Greens MP defends Nats smear

NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has defended a political post on Facebook by Nationals candidate Josh Booyens. Booyens claims Smith...

Dredging rivers: what are the Ballina candidates’ positions?

A recent Meet the Candidates evening in Ocean Shores saw discussion around how to manage local river systems, which have silted up over generations, and likely contributed to the high flood levels experienced in 2022.

Highly valuable endangered woodland in Leard State Foerst – earmarked for destruction. Photo www.maulescreek.org
Highly valuable endangered woodland in Leard State Foerst – earmarked for destruction. Photo www.maulescreek.org

Graeme Williams

Deep in the Leard State Forest in northwest NSW, something massive is stirring. Whitehaven Coal – under the direction of former Nationals leader Mark Vaile – is set to construct the Maules Creek mine, decimating local farming communities and critically endangered woodland in the process.

The deep pits cut into the rich black agricultural soils, for which the region is famed, risk dropping the underground water table by 5–7 metres. At the headwaters of three sub-catchments of the Namoi River, it is a place where the waters begin. Water, our most precious resource, is once again under attack.

Leard State Forest, near Narrabri, is considered a national biodiversity hotspot and home to more than 395 native species. Maules Creek mine will turn 1,600 hectares of this rare forest and surrounding farmland into an open-cut coal pit. If Whitehaven Coal gets their way, they will mine climate-altering coal 24 hours a day – with potentially devastating impacts on several threatened and vulnerable species, including the masked owl and koala. The only thing standing between that forest and the bulldozers is community.

Stopping dozers

Despite approval by former Labor environment minister Tony Burke and financial support from the ANZ bank, a community campaign against the Maules Creek mine has severely delayed construction. Farmers and environmentalists have united to stop bulldozers clearing the forest for mine construction work. Many have never been involved in a protest before. All feel they are doing what our government should be doing.

Phil Laird, fifth-generation farmer from Maules Creek and unlikely environmental campaigner, has been fighting the mine proposal for years. In deep National Party heartland, Laird has been transformed into a legendary forest crusader.

Mine construction is due to start in early January and concerns about the impact of the mines on nearby farmland and livelihoods has driven Laird and his neighbours to send a plea for broader public help. ‘If you don’t protect this, where do you draw the line?’ says Laird.


Protest, or better-termed ‘protector’, camps are infused with a strong sense of camaraderie and the people are typically generous and warm-hearted.

One of the most reassuring aspects of being involved in a community protest camp is the opportunity for everyone to contribute in a way that’s comfortable for them. Some people get involved in peaceful (and often creative) direct actions, others help with essential chores like preparing food and maintaining equipment, while some simply visit to bear witness or to donate vital supplies.

It is now only ordinary citizens like you and I who can stop Whitehaven Coal and their plans to destroy Leard State Forest. From protests aimed at the company’s shareholders, customers divesting from the ANZ bank and by ordinary citizens holding up site construction work. It takes a whole community to win a campaign like this, and the handful of committed activists on the frontline need tangible support. To get involved, contact Ahri Tallon on 0423 515 941.

The Gasfield Free Byron Shire group is hosting a community information night tomorrow (Saturday January 11), 6–8pm at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall. Campaigner Ahri Tallon will be speaking.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. There will also be a similar meeting tonight (Friday 10 January) in Murwillumbah. It starts at 6pm at the Red Cross Hall in Knox Park.

  2. Nimbin Environment Centre and Casino Enviro Centre are sending the community van out there as of week starting 20th. Please join us if you can and help stop the desecration of this timeless land.

  3. Time to use alternative resources. I cannot understand how an endangered forest can be destroyed. Our farming land and water supply need to be saved. For the sake of our future families and the life support systems of our planet, stand up and say to these greedy corporations and government “no more”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Political Cosplay for Fun and Profit

Costume play is not just for Trekkies and Disney fans. If you want to get anywhere in Australian politics, cosplay needs to become a vital part of your skillset.

Nationals and Labor didn’t sign Clarence anti-mining pledge

The Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) have been seeking the support of all candidates running for the seat of Clarence to physically or digitally sign...

Not a ‘bonanza for developers and land bankers’ as local councils lose planning controls?

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment were quick to respond to the article ‘A bonanza for developers and land bankers?’ published on 21 March 2023 on The Echo online ‘to correct the inaccuracies contained in your article’.

Appeal to locate woman missing from Tweed Heads

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a woman, Kara Symington, missing from Tweed Heads since Tuesday.