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Byron Shire
September 28, 2021

Clearing begins at Leard State Forest

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The site of the Leard Forest protest. Photo frontlineaction.org
The site of the Leard State Forest protest. Photo frontlineaction.org

The first major clearing of Leard State Forest for the controversial Maules Creek coal mine began on Wednesday morning but was quickly halted by protestors suspended from some of the trees that are threatened with clearing, the website frontlineaction.org reports.

Maules Creek woman Roselyn Druce, speaking from the protest said, ‘Things are going to come to a head quickly if they keep trying to clear this forest during winter: they shouldn’t be there, and we will be doing everything in our power to stop them.

‘The NSW environment minister, Rob Stokes, needs to intervene and give the wildlife of this forest a fighting chance.’

Biodiversity impacts

Her sentiments have been echoed by NSW Greens evnironment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, who called for the immediate suspension of land clearing at Maules Creek, which was enabled by a result of a recent change of approval conditions by the department of planning and environment.

‘Today widespread clearing has already begun, which puts at risk the rich biodiversity of New South Wales. The government must move immediately suspend the new licence conditions that allow clearing as we head into the winter months, when many native animals enter hibernation and will not be able to escape the chainsaws and bulldozers.

‘Last week on the International Day of Biological Diversity, I sent the minister for the environment a letter requesting him to intervene.

‘The Greens and many in the community are opposed to this massive coal mining project because of its destructive impacts on biodiversity, cultural heritage and its massive contribution to climate change: allowing clearing during the winter months will further compound these damaging impacts.

‘The original licence conditions at least restricted clearing in the winter months, and reverting to them will be vital for mitigating at least some of the destructive effects of the mine on native animals and biodiversity.

‘The government must also listen to local ecologists who have expressed deep concerns about the proposed offsetting proposal for the clearing of endangered ecological communities in the Leard State Forest, and launch an independent investigation into the ecological impacts of the mine.

‘I have seen for myself what is at stake in the fight against big coal when I camped at Maules Creek earlier this year; this is a battle the environment cannot afford to lose’, she said.

ICAC link

The company behind the mine, Whitehaven Coal, acquired the project during a merger with Nathan Tinkler’s Aston Resources in late 2011.

The chairman of Whitehaven, Mark Vaile, was chair of Aston during the time when Maules Creek was first proposed. He was also the deputy prime minister and leader of the federal National Party during the Howard years.

Fronting ICAC last week, Mr Tinkler denied telling associates to donate to the NSW National Party to the maximum allowable limit to bypass disclosure laws.

A blockade of the site has been underway for four months and over 150 people have been arrested, holding up work on the coal project. Protestors object to the impact the mine will have on Leard State Forest and Aboriginal cultural heritage, and the contribution the coal export industry makes to global climate change.

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  1. The Chairman of Whitehaven Coal out there raping endangered ecological communities was the deputy prime minister!! You have got to be joking! And his partner is this sorry venture is Nathan Tinkler! God help us.

  2. Just wanted to clear up a mistake in the article. You stated that the blockade has been going on for four months, when in actual fact the blockade camp began in August of 2012 and 4-5 months ago it was moved to Wando Farm due to the council evicting the FLAC Camp from the forest. So in actual fact the campaign and blockade has been running for over 570 days.

  3. Many people behind some of these coal and CSG ventures are or were also politically active in the National, Liberal and sometimes Labor Parties. They should be upfront when campaigning that they are also benefiting personally from lax environmental laws and fast tracking of fossil fuel extraction.

    China is trying to wean itself off Coal for power generation due to the shocking pollution it is experiencing – and Australia is like a drug dealer pushing cheap Coal and CSG to the energy junkies of Asia – South Korea and Japan included. Many Australians are also addicted – to the easy money they get from ripping off our shared resources under our 19th Century mining laws with their origin in feudal England.

    I want to see the Labor Party develop an integrated energy policy that eliminates the desire for such destructive mining and fossil fuel extraction and puts us at the forefront of renewable energy technology. It would create jobs, profits and be good for our environment. It would be great if the Liberals and Nationals were on board but I think they may be beyond redemption – dinosaurs living in the dark ages with greed their only motivation.

  4. Government is never for the environment and that is why i always go Greens. Environment is always second. This White(black)haven mine, not only is it destroying ecological communities, but also the health of nearby residents who rely on rainwater to survive. Armidale is 140km by air from that mine. They city already suffers from wood some in winter, now they will suffer from Coal pollution and health issues like the Hunter will affect its residents. There will be no more Leard state forest, but nothing but a big hole in the ground, and the forest will never be the same. Maybe the Government should clear up the Woodsreef Mine asbestos mine! How the Leard forest will end up also.


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