Lock the Gate Alliance has spoken out against the mis-use of fire closures by the NSW Forestry Corporation, after they yesterday closed down two State Forests where community groups were camped in protest against coal and gas mining in north-west NSW.
The Forestry Corporation posts notice of closure for the fire season on its website, and the site yesterday showed only two closures for the entire state of NSW - Leard State Forest and Jacks Creek State Forest, the exact two sites where community groups are camping to protest against the Maules Ck Coal mine and the Pilliga Coal Seam Gasfield respectively.
There is no Total Fire Ban in place in the region and no other State Forests in NSW were subject to fire closures.
"This is a serious abuse and mis-use of emergency fire provisions by the Forestry Corporation of NSW which undermines the entire fire response system, and we are calling on them to immediately rescind the declarations" said Phil Laird, National Co-ordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.
"The Forestry Corporation has clearly been instructed by the NSW Government to close down the two State Forests, using fire closure as the highly implausible excuse, in order to evict the community groups camping in the forests.
"It is incredibly disappointing to see the politicisation of important public safety measures such as fire closures by the NSW Government. It seems they will go to any lengths to shield the mining industry from public scrutiny.
"If the closure of Leard State Forest and Jacks Creek State Forest were genuine fire closures, then they should have been accompanied by the closure of all other State Forests across NSW that are at similar risk. Instead, all State Forests are open and there are thousands of people still camped happily in State Forests across the state.
"The truth is that the greatest fire risk in the two State Forests in question is undoubtedly the use of flaring, blasting and the operation of heavy machinery by the coal and gas miners. If fire risk was a genuine concern of the state government, then the first thing they should have done was shut down the mining operations, not a peaceful community camp" he said.
Information or comment Phil Laird 0428 712 622