Sunday, April 20, 2008
Crowd occupies coal loader
The "clean coal" agenda of the 2020 summit was jeapordised yesterday when about 50 people put themselves at risk of arrest by walking into the construction site of the No. 3 coal loader on Kooragang Island, in Newcastle.
Sixteen people of all ages were arrested and charged with trespass, and have been bailed to appear in Newcastle Local Court on 13 May.
The construction of the loader is planned to result in the doubling of Newcastle's coal export capacity, already the largest in the world.
Georgina Woods, spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle said that she was very proud of what the community had done. "We are willing to put ourselves at risk of arrest, if it will help convince the Governments of Australia that expanding the export coal industry is putting everyone’s future in jeopardy. We may not get another chance."
The group entered the site at 8am, halting all work on the site and remaining there until 9:15am. According to NSW Police, the walk-in cost the construction company $50-60 000.
"The people arrested today are courageous," said NSW Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon. "Future generations will thank them for taking a stand and alerting Australians and indeed the world to the irresponsible actions of coal companies and sympathetic governments."
Solar researcher David Mills' application for the 2020 summit was knocked back. Mills emigrated to the United States early last year, frustrated at the lack of funding for solar thermal power. The work which Mills has since done in the United States would be able to supply over 90% of Australia's baseload power.
Meanwhile, former Xstrata CEO Peter Coates, who was invited, told the summit that Australia's 2020 renewable energy target should be scrapped and replaced with a "clean coal" target.
Yesterday's protesters were reasonably well treated by police, although several protesters were allegedly denied food because they were vegetarian.
The non-violent campaign against the port expansion will continue with Climate Camp, to take place in Newcastle on July 10-15.