MAULES CREEK, 24 December 2014: A man has suspended himself from a rail bridge crossing the Namoi River blocking a coal train being loaded at Whitehaven Coal’s controversial Maules Creek mine from leaving the site. The train blocked at the Maules Creek mine is believed to be the first containment of coal from the site after a test train – twice disrupted by activists – left the site last week. The rail bridge also services Idemitsu Resource’s Boggabri Coal mine.
Ben Solity, a 31 year old logistics consultant, cited deep concerns about the impact the mine will have on water and the climate, saying, “Farmers need water to continue to put food on our tables – so why are companies like Whitehaven allowed to take it with preference over farmers? Farmer’s jobs are only going to get harder for them as the effects of climate change driven by coal takes hold. Why are our governments selling out our water and our climate for a quick buck when food security is at stake?”
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Phil Evans said, “Australians do not want coal for Christmas – and Whitehaven are trying to sneak it into their stockings whilst everyone is distracted. Just more slimy behaviour from this disgraced company – and project – that has seen Australians lose faith in mining approval processes in this country.”
“We need a stop to this farce immediately – stop work and then have a good long, hard look at how successive NSW governments, embroiled in mining related corruption, have allowed the Maules Creek mine approval to stick.”
Both Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek and Idemitsu’s Bogggabri mines have approval to expand into the critically endangered Leard State Forest this February – sparking this warning from the protest group.
“They have a battle on their hands if they think local farmers, traditional custodians and concerned citizens are going to allow this wholesale destruction. The forest, water, climate and culture are all too precious to lose – and we won’t take this lying down.”
The Leard Forest Alliance is a group made up of local farmers, prominent environmental groups with a treaty of protection with the Gomeroi traditional custodians of the area. Over 300 people have been arrested since the campaign began over 2 and half years ago.
UPDATE 09:00: Regular police have arrived – no Police Resuce yet. Ben remains in place.
UPDATE 14:30: Ben has just unfurled a banner reading “Whitehaven Coal – No Water – No Future”
UPDATE 16:15: Police Rescue have arrived on site.
UPDATE 16:35: Police Rescue are trying to get to Ben with a Cherry Picker supplied by Whitehaven Coal.
UPDATE 17:00: Ben says Police Rescue are taking apart the bridge to get to him!
UPDATE 18:30: Police Rescue have begun to cut off the now locked on Ben.
UPDATE 19:30: Ben has been arrested and taken to Narrabri Police Station after 13 hours.
Phil Evans, Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson, 0490 064 139