Tree sitter blocks path of the coal companies’ proposed new rail line

Young man in tree sit on banks of Namoi River preventing clearing for coal railway near Leard State Forest

The blockade of Leard forest to prevent it being cleared for the Maules Creek coal mine project has lasted for seven days and continues this morning with a protestor suspended 25 metres in the air between two River Red Gums, to protect them.

Yesterday, two women aged 57 and 60 were arrested after holding a vigil at the base of a River Red Gum on the Namoi River that was slated for removal to make way for the rail spur for the Maules Creek and nearby Boggabri Coal mine expansion. The tree was cut down after the women were arrested.

Today, a young man is suspended on a platform attached by cable to two more River Red Gums on the banks of the Namoi that are in the path of the coal companies’ proposed new rail line.

Local Maules Creek farmer Phil Laird said, “The people that have joined this blockade over the last week are standing up for things that matter to our community. I am proud to be here with them and astounded that the Federal Environment Minister has still taken no action to resolve this conflict by revoking the approval for the Maules Creek coal mine, given that it was based on false and misleading information.”

So far, eight people have been arrested at the blockade, which was established on 13 January in response to Whitehaven Coal’s initial clearing of forest for an access road into the proposed Maules Creek coal mine site.

10AM Update: Police are on site.

7PM Update: Tree sitter has been removed and taken to the police station.

Note: The Front Line Action on Coal camp was established to protect Leard State Forest approximately 18 months ago. The camp and this blockade comes after years of lobbying by the local farming community, Traditional Owners, and environmentalists.

Image: Close-up of tree-sitter by Margo Kingston/@margokingston1