Bulldozers stalled again! Communities resist coal

Leard Forest Alliance Media Release
-MAULES CREEK 25th Feb 2015

Resistance to Whitehaven Coal’s controversial Maules Creek mine has continued today, with 3 people halting bulldozers from clearing the Leard State Forest. Andy Paine has suspended himself from a tree in the Leard State Forest where the bulldozers are currently clearing. Two women, Melissa Freer, and Kelly Purnell, have also locked on to tree-root systems in the forest.

Andy PAndyPainecropaine, 28, disability support worker

“The memory of what mining has done to my hometown has been one of the main reasons I have been involved in opposing this mine. I don’t want to see Maules Creek become just another rural community destroyed by the greed of the mining industry and our government.”



Kelly Purnell, 25, community worker and horticulturalist

“This dodgy project will leave us with nothing but a hole in the ground, which they have no plans to rehabilitate. The economic benefits by which Whitehaven justifies this project are a farce, and I will not stand for it”.


Melissa Freer, 27, child-care worker

“People are dependant on this land for survival. It is time the government respected farming communities, indigenous communities, and our environment.”


Andy Paine grew up four hours south of Maules Creek in Mudgee; and has witnessed first hand the destruction that coal mining can cause to rural communities and forests.

“In the last 10 years, the place where I grew up has been irreversibly changed by the mining industry,” Andy Paine, Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson and tree-sitter said. “The community of Wollar (near Mudgee) first was divided by the money of the mining industry, then destroyed to the point where it is unfarmable and unlivable. What was once a wonderful and diverse community is now a ghost town. The bush, that I grew up surrounded by, has been fenced off and bulldozed, with mining leases covering beautiful and culturally significant areas.” said Mr. Paine

Local farmers have long been against the mine, raising concerns about the destruction of critically endangered box gum woodland, the impact the dust and water usage from the mine will have on mining, and the effects of climate change from the 23 million tonnes of coal it is projected to produce every year.

“The mines are depleting our water, water that we need to live and work and it’s only going to get worse. Land devaluation is a real issue, people don’t want to live here.” said Maules Creek Farmer, and Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson Rick Laird.

Whitehaven’s flagship project has been plagued with questions over dodgy forest offsets, misleading information and links to figures embroiled in ICAC anti-corruption hearings. The Leard Forest Alliance has been calling for a full inquiry into how the mine was approved by NSW and federal governments.

“We have seen real leadership from the 350+ people arrested opposing this mine. Although we are yet to see any leadership from our politicians. Communities across NSW have said not now and never again will we consent to have our homes and bushland destroyed by this dodgy industry that reeks of corruption” said Meret MacDonald, Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson

This last week, 25 people have been arrested defending the forest from Whitehaven’s bulldozers that have permission to clear the “irreplaceable” Leard State Forest for the next 10 weeks.


Further Information:

Rick Laird
Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson0427056418
Andy Paine
Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson
0413 205 154
Meret MacDonald
Leard Forest Alliance Spokesperson
0402 017 027

Follow updates on twitter @Flaccoal and #LeardBlockade


Two women continue to halt the bulldozers. Melissa Freer 27 and Kelly Purnell 25, are locked on to the root systems of trees set to be cleared today. They have been locked on for over 9 and a half hours stopping work, in high spirits and with no signs of giving up.

This morning, Andy Paine, scaled a tree and occupied the canopy halting clearing. At 1pm Police rescue attended the scene.

Follow us on twitter for updates @flaccoal and #LeardBlockade