Narrabri Council to announce plan to evict protest camp from site near Leard State Forest

After maintaining a presence for nearly 18 months, eviction may be imminent for the protest camp perched on the outskirts of Leard State Forest.

Narrabri Council announced an extraordinary meeting of Council will be held Tuesday 21 January at 12:30pm. The Mayor of Narrabri Council visited the Front Line Action on Coal camp this morning.

Margo Kingston reports from camp that the Council meeting will declare high fire risk and eviction from all road reserves.

This latest eviction attempt comes after the protest camp avoided eviction by NSW Forestry Corporation last week. The NSW Forestry Corporation closed Leard State Forest and told campers they had 12 hours to leave the site.

The Northern Daily Leader reported at the time that “a significant police presence [is] on standby at the site should the campers not adhere to the deadline or choose to stand their ground.”

The NSW Forestry Corporation said the closure was due to fire risk however the forest remained open to use by Whitehaven Coal who have just begun construction for the Maules Creek project (an open-cut coal mine and railway line on Leard State Forest land and adjacent farm land).

After seeking legal advice it was discovered that the camp was located on a public road reserve, not within the state forest and so the camp avoided eviction by NSW Forestry Corporation.

Lock the Gate Alliance spoke out against the NSW Forestry Corporation’s attempted eviction of the community protest camp, saying that the fire season was used as an excuse to close the Leard State Forest. Lock the Gate said that this is a misuse of emergency fire provisions.

Local farmer Phil Laird, and ecologist Phil Spark will attend tomorrow’s extraordinary meeting of Narrabri Council to urge Council against its planned eviction of the camp.

The camp was established in August 2012 in an effort to support the Maules Creek farming community and Traditional Owners in protecting Leard State Forest from open-cut coal mining plans.