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Issue #1642      June 11, 2014

Govt unlawful action at Maules Creek

The Leard Forest Alliance last week revealed explosive allegations that changes made to a key management plan for the Maules Creek coal mine, allowing clearing to take place in the Leard State Forest over winter and spring, may have been unlawful.

The Maules Creek Community Council has written to the NSW Ministers for Planning and Environment asking them to explain upon what power the Acting Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment acted in changing the plan. Lawyers for the Maules Creek Community Council have requested that clearing in the Leard Forest be immediately stopped because they are unlawful.

The Leard State Forest has been the setting for emotional scenes as environmentalists and local community members blockade the clearing operation, putting themselves in front of bulldozers and suspending themselves from trees.

Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “The implications of this letter to the Ministers are profound. If the changes to this management plan were made unlawfully, then the clearing happening now is a major breach of Whitehaven’s approval.

“The clearing that is devastating Leard Forest is unlawful and must be stopped. The NSW government cannot continue covering for Whitehaven Coal: uphold the law, stop the clearing and restore environmental protections to Leard State Forest now.”

Ms Woods said that witnesses in the trees have watched Whitehaven clearing the forest at breakneck speed with three bulldozers. Despite the controversy of the Maules Creek mine, the Department of Planning has secretly yielded to Whitehaven’s demands, exceeding its authority and casting the project as legal in the process.

“This unlawful action by the Department of Planning is one more black mark for the government in the tawdry history of this controversial mine following close upon undeclared political donations and phoney offsets. The government can only regain face in this matter by ordering this clearing to cease.”

Next article – Call for resignations over mine fire

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