NSW Government’s Forestry Corporation attempt to shut down protest in Leard State Forest

The Northern Daily Leader reported on Tuesday 14 January 2014:

ANTI-COALMINING protesters camped in the Leard State Forest for more than 530 days have been given just hours to vacate the site or risk being forcibly removed by police.

The Leader understands Forestry Corporation went to the camp on Tuesday morning and told protesters it was shutting the forest and they had 12 hours to pack up and move on.

There is a significant police presence on standby at the site should the campers not adhere to the deadline or choose to stand their ground.

The camp was established on August 5, 2012 to oppose Whitehaven Coal’s plans to construct a $767 million coalmine at the nearby Maules Creek.

The ultimatum comes after two protesters were arrested for disrupting work on the mine by chaining themselves to heavy machinery on Monday.

Sydney Morning Herald also published news about the attempted eviction:

A forest at the centre of an anti-coalmine protest has been closed to the public. […]

activists face a $2200 fine if they stay on state forest land.

The Northern Inland Council for the Environment called this attempted eviction by the NSW Forestry Corporation “unprecedented”.

“They have effectively handed over this important public forest, Leard State Forest, to the coal miners, and now they are trying to lock the public out so that the destruction of this priceless environmental area can go on unobserved,” said Phil Spark, spokesperson with the Northern Inland Council for the Environment.

Lock the Gate Alliance (LTGA) also spoke out against the attempted eviction of the community protest camp, saying that the fire season was used as an excuse to close the Leard State Forest. LTGA say that this is a misuse of emergency fire provisions by the Forestry Corporation of NSW. Read the LTGA’s statement in full here.

The Front Line Action on Coal camp remains in place, defending Leard State Forest from coal mining, the NDL reports in a follow up story:

…the campers stood their ground and sought legal advice, which revealed only a small portion of the camp was actually on forestry-controlled land.

The relocation of a few tents and some other items was about all it took for the protesters to slip outside Forestry Corporation’s jurisdiction and continue their occupation.