A PROTESTER has been arrested and charged after spending 14 hours up a tree at the main entrance to the Tarrawonga Mine yesterday, blocking the movement of coal to and from the site.
The 22-year-old woman will face court next month charged with hindering the working of mine equipment and obstruct/hinder etc person in exercise of function under Act.
She was given bail and will appear in Narrabri Local Court on April 23.
And Front Line Action on Coal, the group behind the action, has vowed to continue their protests "until federal politicians intervene and implement a royal commission into coal mine approval processes".
A female protester, identified only as Merritt, from Sydney, climbed onto the tree platform at the main gate to the Whitehaven mine, near Boggabri, at 4.30am yesterday and remained up there until 6.30pm when she was forcibly removed by police rescue officers.
Her actions were supported by up to 20 other protesters, who blocked the gate, stopping coal trucks from entering the site and prompting Whitehaven management to call police.
Front Line Action on Coal spokesman Jonathan Moylan said five police in two cars arrived about 11.30am yesterday and arranged for a police rescue unit from Sydney to help remove the protester from the platform, which was attached by a rope to the gate.
About 5.30pm yesterday a police helicopter landed at the site and she was taken down by police rescue officers using a cherry picker.
Mr Moylan said she was then arrested and driven away.
The protest is just the latest at Tarrawonga and the recently-approved Maules Creek mines which border the Leard State Forest.
Protest groups, which include local farmers, are concerned about the impact on the forest, aquifers and endangered species, which they say have not been given enough consideration in the approval process.
A national alliance of coal and gas affected communities, Lock the Gate, launched the "Call to Country" website and campaign last week, demanding federal intervention into coal and gas approval processes.
Mr Moylan said Front Line Action on Coal was backing the campaign, calling for a federal moratorium on new coal and coal-seam gas projects and a royal commission into state government coal mine approval processes.
Protesters have occupied a camp in the Leard State Forest since August 5 last year and Mr Moylan said they had no intention of leaving.
"This is what happens when government rides roughshod over communities," he told The Leader yesterday.
"If the state planning laws remain the same, then it's very likely these kinds of protests will continue."