Two people have immobilised a drill rig at the controversial Maules Creek coal mine site in the Leard State Forest.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Phil Evans said Sydney man Michael Poland, 21, scaled a 20-metre high drill rig and Christina Hobbs, 30, locked herself to a nearby dozer.
‘This has happened in the midst of a massive police operation that has seen Maules Creek locals targeted for random searches of vehicles and numerous road blockages causing unwarranted delays,’ Mr Evans said. Ms Hobbs, a food security economist, said, ‘It’s time to stand up for the rights of Australian farmers, the future of our agriculture, and our climate.
‘It is economically scandalous to destroy prime agricultural land and river systems for the short term profits of coal barons,’ she said.
‘Our politicians have failed to stand against big coal, but this week we have shown that ordinary Australians will.’
Mr Poland, who travelled from Sydney to stand with the local community, said, ‘this mining development, this government and the police, by enforcing unjust restrictions, are acting to protect economic benefit of a few mining magnates above the basic human rights of the community.
‘They are maliciously endangering our land, our water, our climate and even a local farmer’s right to go to church,’ he said.
Late last week, police road blocks, set up in reaction to community protest, prevented long term Maules Creek resident and Boggabri parishioner, Wilma Laird, from attending church services over Easter.
NSW police have also deployed a helicopter, sniffer dogs and a tracker dog unit to Gunnedah in an operation that will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
’Why should the local community be inconvenienced while Whitehaven Coal carry on business as usual?’ Mr Evans said.
‘The approval of this project has been a farce from the start and has never taken into consideration the community’s opposition. In light of the political turmoil around Whitehaven and other mining projects, including the ICAC investigation, the only logical response is for a Royal Commission into the mining approvals process,’ he said.