Community auditors denied access to Leard forest clearing

A small group of citizen scientists were this morning denied access to Leard State Forest, where they had intended to conduct community audit of clearing of endangered forest types and threatened species habitat that has taken place there during the last week for the Maules Creek Coal mine.

The auditors say they have reason to believe that Whitehaven Coal has not fulfilled the conditions of its Management Plans but that there is no on-ground compliance monitoring being undertaken by the NSW Government.
Fern York, a member of the audit team, said, “All we wanted to do was to walk through the area that has already been cleared, rescue the wounded animals and document any breaches that we found of Whitehaven’s Management Plans.
“Now that we have been turned away, there is no one doing this job: Whitehaven are getting a free ride to damage the forest and even a bunch of harmless citizen scientists have been denied access to hold them to any kind of account.”

Whitehaven Coal were given permission by the NSW Government to undertake major clearing in the forest last month, despite previous conditions stating that clearing should not occur in winter, when many species of wildlife are hibernating. One dead bat has already been found by activists in the forest.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Helen War said, “We should not be having to do this job in the first place. Where is the NSW Government? Why is Whitehaven being let off the hook and wildlife being made to suffer? The conflict that is gripping this forest can be brought to an end as soon as Pru Goward and Rob Stokes intervene to uphold some standards here.”