Mother and son lock up Gunnedah coal facility

A MOTHER and son locked themselves together yesterday morning, effectively stopping work at Whitehaven Coal’s facility at Gunnedah.

Jocelyn Howden and her 28-year-old son Erland locked themselves together, holding the gates shut, blocking access for the company to deliver coal for processing and exportation.

Mrs Howden said if our government refused to act to protect our precious environment, ordinary citizens must act in its stead. 

FAMILY AFFAIR: Erland and Jocelyn Howden believe it’s up to the people to make a stand against coalmining in the Leard State Forest.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Erland and Jocelyn Howden believe it’s up to the people to make a stand against coalmining in the Leard State Forest.

Mr Howden said he took part to send a message to Whitehaven Coal’s investors and financers. 

“The age of coal is over. Building the biggest new coalmine in Australia at the expense of an irreplaceable forest is as unacceptable as funding it, when we know the irreversible impacts it will have on the land, the water, health and global climate,” he said.

“Myself, my mum and the hundreds of people before us who have joined this blockade have demonstrated that we will not allow Whitehaven Coal and its investors to profit from the exploitation of the community.”

Gunnedah’s processing plant is owned by Whitehaven Coal, which is constructing the proposed Maules Creek mine, in the heart of the Leard State Forest. 

As police roadblocks have curtailed protesters’ access to the forest in Boggabri, protesters have relocated to Gunnedah to take a stand. 

This controversial project has seen a diverse range of local farmers, residents and individuals from around Australia choose to stand up and take action against the imminent destruction of a critically endangered forest, and its inhabitants. In the past four months, more than 130 people have been arrested taking part in direct action aimed at preventing this project from continuing.

Leard Forest Alliance spokeswoman Dani Joy said despite the police presence, the alliance continued to see people from all walks of life –and all parts of Australia – make the decision to “take a stand against corporate intimidation and reckless investment”.

“This campaign continues to demonstrate coal is a national issue that does not discriminate,” Ms Joy said.

“We will continue to fight the Maules Creek mine development, as long as the voices of concerned citizens are not heard.”

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