[Updated 28/01/14: 12pm] A protester has been arrested this morning in the latest action in the ongoing blockade to prevent Whitehaven Coal clearing Leard State Forest for their Maules Creek coal mine, Lock the Gate reports. Several structures with protesters attached to machinery are still in place, halting construction work on the site.
More than 100 people are attempting to shut down construction today of the controversial Maules Creek coal mine project in northwest NSW.
A blockade of the site that has been underway for over two weeks, with protesters coming from all over NSW– including a strong contingent from the northern rivers – to make a stand against feared destruction of the Leard state forest.
Yesterday, four groups of protestors have blocked four entrances to the forest, and another two are in the project area on tripod structures that are preventing Whitehaven Coal from continuing preliminary construction work.
Maules Creek local Roslyn Druce said ‘this blockade has given our community hope that we are not just the collateral damage of the coal industry’.
‘It is the forest that has brought everyone together. This blockade is doing the job the Government should have done, protecting an irreplaceable forest,’ Ms Druce said.
Among those risking arrest today is Bill Ryan, a legally blind 91-year old Kokoda veteran, who is taking part with his 65-year old son.
Bill is joined by men and women of all ages and backgrounds, all of them refusing to allow Whitehaven Coal’s contractors to enter the site to build the mine.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said ‘the men and women taking part in this blockade have been compelled to make sacrifices and put themselves at risk of arrest to protect something of great value.
‘This mine should never have been approved: environment minister Greg Hunt can put a stop to all of this by revoking the approval that was mistakenly given to clear this forest for coal mining,’ Ms Woods said.
‘We certainly won’t be giving up on this community, this forest and the people that love it.’
She said people could follow or report the live action on twitter using the hashtag #leardblockade