Wednesday 29 January 2014: Protestors from Leard State Forest invaded the offices of Whitehaven in Boggabri today demanding to be given the independent review of the company’s offsets plan for Maules Creek mine.
Spokesperson Phil Spark said that the independent review was completed in December 2013 and both Whitehaven and the Federal government had denied conservation groups access to the document.
“This is yet another example of how conservation groups and concerned citizens have been totally shut out of the process. It is crucial that we see how the mines propose to meet the requirements of the approval, as the deadline for our court appeal is fast approaching.
“The escalation of protest actions is a direct response to both the mining companies and the government departments ignoring our concerns. We wrote to Greg Hunt on 7th October requesting a meeting with him and informing him of his legal responsibility to consider our concerns seriously. He has yet to reply. Many concerned citizens have written to Hunt and have been told our claims are being investigated, yet we have been given no further details about what is taking place.
“Meanwhile the construction has started and clearing has begun in Leard State Forest and the public are supposed to just accept that the offsets will deliver a conservation outcome.
“The federal government could stop these protests tomorrow, if they chose to make public what they are doing about the serious issues we have raised in relation to the use of false and misleading information to get the mines approved,” said Phil Spark.
The group said they would not be happy until they are given a full and detailed explanation of how the offsets will deliver a conservation outcome.
The Maules Creek mine – the largest new mine in Australia – will mean the destruction of a public forest of high conservation value - 1100 ha of critically endangered ecological community providing habitat for 30 threatened species.
“The public have a right to be fully informed. The current secrecy and clearing of the forest will continue to fuel the concerns of conservationists who vow to step up the protests even more unless they are included in an open and transparent process,” said Phil Spark.
Phil Spark 0427642245