Hauled over the coals - furious farmer refuses to evict protestors

A FARMER at the centre of a bitter stoush between anti-mining activists and authorities has vowed to fight an order to kick the protesters off his land.

Maules Creek landowner Clifford Wallace yesterday attacked Narrabri Shire Council and the mining companies he believes are pulling its strings.

“Where’s this coming from?” he said. “To the best of our knowledge it’s only one letter and the council has acted upon one hearsay letter with no proof.

“Yet we have got a mine starting up that’s going to belch thousands of tonnes of pollution into the atmosphere and poison our aquifers and there’s been no investigation.”

The 62-year-old stepped in last month to offer protesters sanctuary following their eviction from a camp in the Leard State Forest after 550 days.

On Monday, the council revealed it had received “numerous complaints from residents” regarding traffic, dust and noise emanating from the camp.

It has written to Mr Wallace signalling its intention to order him to “cease the activity and relocate all camping activity to an approved camping ground”.

“They’re complaining about traffic, dust and noise, which are exactly the things we’re saying that the future mines are going to bring,” Mr Wallace said.

“We’re just going to ride it out. There is massive support for us – and I mean massive. If they want a fight, they’re going to get it.”

Fellow Black Mountain Rd resident, Alistair Todd, contacted The Leader yesterday to cast doubt over the veracity of the “numerous” complaints council received.

“I think the Narrabri Shire Council has used a pretty lame excuse to make a decision on – traffic has got nothing to do with it,” he said.

“Out of those 19 adults (who live on the road), three work directly with mining companies and one is a contractor to a mining company.

“And all but one lives beyond the protest camp, so the protesters wouldn’t be driving past their places anyway.”

It is not the first time the council has had to deal with people camping illegally on private property.

In 2009, Eastern Star Gas was caught housing workers on private land, with the campers permitted to remain until a development application was passed.

Narrabri councillor Bevan O’Regan, who fought to allow the protesters to remain at their original camp, said council had no option but to act on the complaints.

Meanwhile a formerly law-abiding farmer charged with two offences after locking himself onto a truck in the Pilliga forest on Monday maintains he has no regrets.

Ted Borowski intends to plead guilty to counts of obstructing traffic and failing to comply with a police directive and cop whatever penalties come his way.

But the 58-year-old, who runs a dry land farm near Coonamble, said the 70-hour protest was worth it to raise awareness of the dangers of coal seam gas extraction.

“We’re worried about our water,” he said. “We’re above the Great Artesian Basin and we know if there’s a fracture and gas is released into the basin then we’ll probably end up with polluted water.”

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