Anti-coal blockade hits Newcastle port

Image: www.theguardian.com

Anti-coal protestors lined Newcastle’s Horseshoe Beach on Sunday, as their blockade prevented the movement of coal from the port.

The protest involved nearly 2000 people and was organised by activist group 350.org, in collaboration with other environmental groups.

It was part of a global day of environmental action and was one of at least 18 protests scheduled worldwide this month under the Breakfree2016 banner, a “two-week global wave of escalated action to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground”.

Participants and supporters mainly wore red and with a fleet of police watching from jet skis and boats.

A fleet of approximately 200 kayaks and catamarans blockaded the harbour. It also had performances by blues singer Ash Grunwald and Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst on the renewable powered catamaran Gaia’s Dream.

The blockade was peaceful, however nearly 70 people were arrested or given court attendance notices after ‘lock on’ protests at the port’s coal loaders and the coal rail bridge to Kooragang Island, the Sun Herald reports.

It ran from morning through to late afternoon as port authorities altered shipping schedules to ensure no coal ships or other cargo ships travelled in or out of the port during the time.

The protest also worked as an election campaign launch site for The Greens, with party leader Richard Di Natale saying it was time Australia was serious about “tackling dangerous global warming”.

Organisers defended the actions of those arrested, saying they were determined to take action where governments have failed to act on climate change.

350.org has also been prominent in other anti-coal initiatives, with one of the activists, Vanessa Wiebford, locking herself to one of the conveyors at Newcastle’s coal port in December last year.

The port was last blockaded in October 2014 and involved the Pacific Climate Warriors, joined by 100 canoes on the port.

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