Wilpinjong protesters first to face new law Arrest: Wollar resident Bev Smiles in the area she has called home for more than 30 years. She was arrested on Wednesday for protesting outside Wilpinjong coal mine.
Charge: Bev Smiles outside Wilpinjong coal mine as police escort her away to be charged.
Protest: Bev Smiles is interviewed outside a Planning Assessment Commission hearing into the Wilpinjong coal mine expansion project.
Victory: Bev Smiles (left) and other Upper Hunter residents celebrate after former senior Labor politicians were charged with offences relating to controversial coal mine projects.
TweetFacebookI’ve always said I won’t go down without a fight. We just upped the ante on that. I’ve got nothing to lose. My message is you can put me in jail. Do what you want.
Environmental activist and Wollar resident Bev SmilesOnly three homes in Wollar remain privately owned. East of the village, where Ms Smiles, her sister and brother in law live, they are the only remaining residents and their homes are surrounded by land owned by Peabody Energy, which owns Wilpinjong mine.
Mr Hughes, who grew up in the Gulgong area and whose father was a timber cutter in the Wollar area where Mr Hughes now lives, is one of about 10 remaining property owners to the north.
Ms Smiles said another highly controversial coal mine proposal, in the Bylong Valley, would also have significant impacts on Wollar because mine traffic would be through the village.
“I certainly don’t want to move anywhere else, but the impacts of the mine as it is are significant, and we know that’s going to get worse. The Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Planning are trying to sneak in new industrial guidelines to this mine, before they’ve even been approved, and if they apply to this extension then I’m probably going to have to just walk away from this place for the sake of my health.”
Ms Smiles and others had asked the PAC to consider conditions which would give them acquisition rights, where they can negotiate to have Peabody buy their properties because of mine impacts.
“We’ve got properties you can’t sell on the open market. That’s the reality when a mine moves in.”