Protesters Blockade Coal Company Office

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by Jessie Davis / the Land

Australia: Opponents to Maules Creek open cut coal mine fear they won’t be given adequate time to consider the offsets package proposed by Whitehaven Coal, with the court appeal deadline looming on February 7.

A blockade was formed by protesters at the offices of Whitehaven Coal in Boggabri yesterday to demand a look at the independent review of the company’s offsets plan for the mine.

Spokesperson for the Northern Inland Council for the Environment Phil Spark said the review was completed in December 2013 but since then, both Whitehaven and the federal government have denied access to the document.

Mr Spark said Whitehaven is required by law to publish the review under Condition 10 of Maules Creek’s approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The review may contain information which could form the basis of an appeal.

“The public have a right to be fully informed,” Mr Spark said.

“The current secrecy and clearing of the forest will continue to fuel the concerns of conservationists and citizens who vow to step up the protests if they are not included in an open and transparent process.”

A spokesperson for Whitehaven Coal said the protest exposed the company’s employees to violent intimidation despite knowing “full well” that the plan is currently sitting with the Federal Department of Environment for consideration.

However, Mr Spark is not convinced the review will not provide the information necessary, “but it may have significant information to help us with our appeals process”.

“This is yet another example of how conservation groups and concerned citizens have been totally shut out of the process,” he said.

“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.”

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