Hundreds of protesters took part in a rally in Sydney yesterday in opposition to the construction of Whitehaven Coal’s $767 million Maules Creek mine.
The rally comes amid escalating proetsts against the project which has so far seen more than 171 people arrested since direct activism commenced in December.
The group gathered outside Cabinet offices at Governor Macquarie Tower in Sydney's CBD to protest against the clearing of parts of Leard State Forrest to make way for the new mine.
Activists say they are outraged that Whitehaven Coal has been granted permission to bulldoze the forest during winter months while many native endangered species are in a kind of hibernation.
At the Sydney rally, Lock the Gate spokesperson Phil Laird said he had a petition with 30,000 signatories that want the development of Maules Creek mine halted.
“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,” one protestor said.
Protests at the site itself have been consistent since December with activists locking themselves to trucks, gates, drill rigs and trees in order to disrupt construction activity.
This week has seen a ramp up in activity as bulldozers took to the forest to clear way for the project.
Ben Pearson from Greenpeace labelled the people attempting to halt the bulldozers as heroes.
"But let's be clear … there's only so much flesh can do against steel," Pearson said.
"There's only so many bulldozers that we can stop and there's only a limited amount of time that we can stop them.
"The people who can stop the winter slaughter continuing, the people who can protect the remnants of the Leard State Forest work in this building."
Activists say they will not stop their protests in the forest.
“We will not give up,” Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson, Helen War said.
Whitehaven Coal has previously labelled activists a nuisance and said it would not be deterred from getting on with the project’s construction.
“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 has said.
“Protestors should respect the fact that this is an approved project that has passed the highest contemporary environmental approvals standards."
Images: ABC and http://leardstateforest.com