Arrests for Whitehaven Coal protesters

Coal trains have resumed travelling to the Port of Newcastle this afternoon after being stranded for over two hours after an activist chained himself to the rail line.

The 27-year-old man was tied to tracks near Kooragang Island at about 10am and police were forced to cut him free.

Trains resumed at midday, but the two hour delay means tonnages of coal arrived late to the port.

The action at Kooragang has been part of a wider protest today that targeted Whitehaven Coal’s operations in the Gunnedah Basin.

Maules Creek, Werrris Creek, Tarrawonga and Rocglen coal mines in the north-west NSW have all been affected by activists who had locked themselves to access gates and various pieces of machinery.

Around 10 people have been cut free by police and arrested.

The coal loader at Werris Creek mine is still being occupied by two climbing activists, Papatya Danis and Hayley Sestokas, who used roped and harnesses to unfurl a sign which reads: Coal: Done and Dusted.

The pair have been sitting on the top of the coal loader for close to nine hours.

“Any suggestion by Whitehaven that these are minor delays are ridiculous. If this is the normal state of how they run their business – I would suggest a serious look at their business model,” a spokesperson for protest group Front Line Action on Coal said.

The group wants the state government to stop construction work at Maules Creek mine.

Greens NSW senator Lee Rhiannon has congratulated the activists for today’s action.

“The 150 people involved in this direct action are the voice of a community that is fed up with the damage the coal industry is causing," Rhiannon said.

“If we cannot trust our governments to protect our environment, and to plan for our future, then people will take direct action and I congratulate them for their courage and foresight.

Whitehaven deny claims activists forced the company to halt operations.

“There have been a number of protests this morning but the suggestion that they have ‘shut down’ all our operational and development sites is false and consistent with grandiose claims made about the impact of protests generally,” a company spokesman said.

Images: frontlineaction.org

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