More than 90 people will have their cases mentioned in Narrabri Local Court today as protests and consequent arrests continue in the Leard State Forest, with activists vowing to halt new coal mines.
Protests in the Gunnedah Basin have been consistent since December and centre around the construction of Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine and the expansion of Boggabri coal mine.
130 people have been arrested since the acts of civil disobedience begun.
Photos of people locked to trucks, gates, drill rigs and trees have been common.
Last week a police helicopter crew and dog squad arrived in Gunnedah from Sydney to watch over the protests.
The large police presence coincided with the ActUp4 – a 10-day campaign organised by protestors aimed at protecting the forest and stopping progress of the Maules Creek mine construction.
It involved workshops, action and community engagement.
Yesterday a mother and son from the Blue Mountains chained themselves to Whitehaven Coal’s Gunnedah coal washery.
Jocelyn Howden and Erland Howden were locked to the gate at 9am before police cut them free 90 minutes later.
Howden said he had taken part in the protest because ‘‘the age of coal is over’’.
‘‘Building the biggest new coal mine in Australia at the expense of an irreplaceable forest is as unacceptable as funding it, when we know the irreversible impacts it will have on the land, the water, health and global climate,’’ Howden said.
Last week, 65-year-old John Ross, locked himself to the front gates of the Whitehaven Coal Handling Preparation Plant, disrupting work at the site.
Sydney man Michael Poland, 21, and Christina Hobbs, 30, were arrested on Thursday after immbolising a drill rig at the Maules creek mine construction site.
However despite the persistent protests, the Whitehave Coal says there has been little disruption to its work schedule.
‘‘The real issue here is the amount of police resources that are being diverted from other community policing tasks to deal with protesters seeking to unlawfully disrupt a project that has already passed a comprehensive planning approvals process,’’ a spokesman said.
The company has previously said it is committed tp delivering the coal project.
“Protestors should respect the fact that this is an approved project that has passed the highest contemporary environmental approvals standards."
Activists say they will remain in the area fighting the Maules Creek development until it is halted.
“Despite the police presence, we continue to see people from all walks of life, and all parts of Australia decide to come here to stand up against corporate intimidation and reckless investment,” Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson, Dani Joy said.
“This campaign continues to demonstrate that Coal is a national issue that does not discriminate. We will continue to fight the Maules Creek Mine development, as long as the voices of concerned citizens are not heard.”