By Phil Evans
In 2011 a small NSW community taking on the expansion of Whitehaven’s and Idemitsu’s coal mines into the Leard State Forest – known for its Koala and Masked Owl habitats – set up a camp to protest the moves. Since then, Jonothan Moylan’s release of an email highlighting ANZ’s involvement in the project has thrust the once very local campaign into the national spotlight. He now faces up to 10 years or $765,000 in fines for his actions. Find out more about the solidarity campaign, Stand with Jono.
The camp, set up by Front Line Action on Coal (FLAC), at the time of writing has been around for over 530 days. In recent days, the camp has been issued an eviction notice that was cleverly beaten on a technicality, however the camp remains under serious threat of eviction.
In December last year, a group of 120 activists converged on the Leard Forest camp for a gathering called Act Up. The invitation to attend the event came from the Gomeroi people and local Boggabri and Maules Creek community members. A number of Quit Coal, AYCC and Greenpeace activists from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and were joined by locals and rural folk from around the country. Many of the local community members expressed great appreciation for the 15 odd activists who made the 1400km journey from Melbourne to the camp.
Two days of non-violent direct action (NVDA) training (including by Quit Coal/CounterAct activist Nicola Paris) were followed by a day of action which shut Whitehaven out of Leard Forest for the day. This involved a mass action at the main gate and a series of smaller actions at other entry points – utilising tactics like blocking access with a car, lock-ons and a tree-sit and resulted in at least 6 arrests. In the subsequent days, the main road was blocked again with another lock-on and operations were further halted when a banner calling for Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) and ANZ to stop funding both Idemitsu and Whitehaven Coal’s destruction of Leard State Forest was unfurled on one of the coal crushers.
The ability of FLAC to mobilise that great number of activists sent a clear message to Whitehaven and Idemitsu that the destruction of this critically endangered box-gum woodlands ecological community will not go down without a fight.
Quit Coal stands in solidarity with Gomeroi, FLAC, and the local community’s fight against coal mining in this beautiful area of NSW.