Whitehaven Coal’s contentious winter clearing at Maules Creek was stopped today, World Environment Day, by a series of protests, according to the website Frontline Action.
Two protesters – Kwame Tsey, a 32-year-old small business owner and David Gallichan, a 43-year-old environmental scientist – attached themselves to machinery used to demolish the forest and were later removed by police.
Whitehaven successfully sought an amendment to its Biodiversity Management Plan in May, which now allows the company to bulldoze forest throughout winter, a time when many species which inhabit the forest will be in hibernation or torpor and thus vulnerable to injury or death from bulldozers.
‘The winter clearing could not be a more horrible thing. It’s a time when animals are defenceless. Enough is enough. It’s time we preserve what is all of ours, instead of destroy it to line the pockets of a greedy few,’ Mr Tsey told Frontline Action.
The winter clearing has sparked widespread outrage and drawn expressions of concern from the state government, with hundreds of people marching the streets of Sydney yesterday to condemn the destruction. The protesters have put out a call to their supporters around the country, vowing to fight the winter clearing until it’s halted. Numerous people have already poured in to join the protests, with more on the way.
There have been 171 arrests in the Leard State Forest and surrounding mines since January.
Police report they continue to arrest protestors, including eight on Tuesday, who were demonstrating at the site.
About 10am police within the Leard State Forest located three protestors who were with security officers.
One man who had locked himself to a bulldozer that was being used to clear the forest was spoken to by officers and released himself from the machinery.
All three were taken to Narrabri police station where they were charged with offences under the crimes act and forestry regulations.
Later that day, police were again called to the Maules Creek mine lease where five protestors were sitting in a tree about 100 metres into the forest.
Police used a crane to remove the people: all five were arrested and taken to Narrabri Police Station and charged with offences under the crimes act and forestry regulations.
Barwon local area commander, superintendent Gelina Talbot, said the operation continues.
‘NSW police force will continue to conduct a high visibility operation that targets those protestors intent on committing criminal offences and risking public safety,’ she said.