Coal protesters descend on Newcastle

Police remove protesters dressed as angels from the Hunter River rail bridge Photo @FossilFuelsMU
Police remove protesters dressed as angels from the Hunter River rail bridge Photo @FossilFuelsMU

Dozens have been arrested following an anti-fossil fuel protest.

Police arrested 66 people after climate change activists blocked train tracks and an entrance to Newcastle harbour – Australia’s biggest coal export port – in a attempt to stop coal leaving or entering the area.

Several hundred kayaks and other vessels also took to the water in the shipping channel, blocking access for coal ships going in or out of Newcastle harbour.

A 41-year-old man who police say was hanging from a conveyor belt above a ship was charged with entering enclosed lands and destroying or damaging property. Three women were also charged after they allegedly abseiled from Stockton Bridge at the Port Waratah coal facility.

Further charges were laid against protesters accused of attaching themselves to equipment and ships, and a woman who climbed up mooring lines of a coal carrier

The protests are part of several anti-fossil fuel actions happening across 12 countries. All people arrested were released on bail and will face local court next month.

The Break Free From Fossil Fuels group said it was targeting “some of the most iconic and dangerous fossil fuel projects on the face of the planet”.

Roughly 1500 protesters took part in the event, which was supported by Greenpeace and climate action group 350.org.

“On a day when the election is going to be called, it’s sending a signal to our elected leaders that climate change is an election issue,” 350.org spokesman Campbell Klose said.

Many of the protesters said they wanted the government to act on commitments made in the Paris agreement, and move towards 100 per cent renewable energy.