A group of people have stopped work today at Idemitsu’s Boggabri coal mine to protest habitat destruction caused by ongoing expansion of coal mining in Leard forest. Two activists in bat costumes have scaled a coal loader on site and have unfurled a banner reading “Save the Leard”.
The action is part of an ongoing campaign to protect vulnerable species of the Leard State Forest from coal mining.
Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Helen War said, “Idemitsu’s expansion will destroy 1385 hectares of forest, of which 624 is critically endangered box gum habitat. The forest is home to 31 endangered and vulnerable species, including the Greater Long-eared bat, the Barking Owl and the Turquoise parrot.
“These endangered ecological communities are irreplaceable and cannot simply be offset by the purchase of a patchwork of disused farmland and substandard rehabilitation areas. While Idemitsu boasts of offsets six times the size of the mine, it will take over 100 years before they provide crucially equivalent habitat. This is a classic example of how environmental offsets lack any scientific credibility.
“In 2014, it is outrageous that these senseless coal mines are allowed unrestricted license to destroy public forest, irrespective of their ecological value. Idemitsu’s expansion, together with Whitehaven Coal’s new Maules Creek mine, will see more than half the Leard State Forest turned into a barren wasteland.”
29 people from a broad cross-section of the community have been arrested over the past two months protecting the forest.
Ms War added “We stand firm in protest over these open pit coal mines. We will not stop until this forest is protected.”
UPDATE: The two activists are removed by police rescue after 9 and a half hours.