Leard State Forest clearing decision welcomed by Leard Blockade camp.

Front Line Action on Coal have described the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DP&E) decision to limit clearing of the Leard State Forest by Whitehaven Coal to late summer as sensible and welcomed. The decision brings the Biodiversity Management Plan of the controversial Maules Creek mine in line with neighbouring projects run by Idemitsu Resources and by Whitehaven Coal themselves.

Today’s announcement by the DP&E means that Whitehaven Coal’s plan to clear this Spring will be put on hold, and limited to a window between 15th of February 2015 and 30th of April 2015.

The decision comes after much community anxiety and opposition to forest clearing in sensitive times, culminating in a legal challenge to the winter clearing program initiated by Whitehaven in late May.

Whitehaven Coal have seemingly attempted to allay any share price slump caused by the second delay in its clearing schedule by announcing that first coal-to-rail will now occur in January 2015, two months ahead of schedule. The first coal-to-rail date for the Maules Creek project has moved with almost every quarterly report released by the company.

Phil Evans, Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson, said “Whether or not Whitehaven get coal out by January, or March is immaterial in terms of our campaign. Community opposition and challenge to the legitimacy of this mine have already seen a delay of over two years from the project’s initial late 2012 coal-to-rail date.”

“We, and the ever growing movement against coal, are not going anywhere fast despite this great victory on the forest front. From pit to port, Whitehaven will find ordinary Australians who will stand in their way. The divestment movement away from fossil fuels is just getting started, so whilst they might get their coal out, one begins to wonder just who is going to buy it?”

Front Line Action on Coal are planning the 6th in their series of mass convergences, called Act Ups, beginning at the end of this month. Act Up 5 saw 4 mines and 1 coal processing all owned by Whitehaven shut down by activists and community in an unprecedented display of peaceful, civil disobedience. The Newcastle coal port rail line – affecting coal exports from the Hunter Valley up to the Gunnedah Basin – was also temporarily shut down by Act Up 5 participants.

Over 1000 people have flocked to the long running Leard Blockade camp which over the last two years has seen 265 people arrested taking part in peaceful, community lead, civil disobedience.

Further Information:
Phil Evans, Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson
0490 064 139