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Climate Activists Arrested After Shovelling Coal From Train

Above photo: BeyondImages/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Police charged about 50 protesters after coal train was brought to a standstill for four hours.

Dozens of people have been arrested after protesters scaled a train bound for the Port of Newcastle and began shovelling coal out of its wagons.

The train was brought to a standstill a few kilometres from the port while passing Sandgate, near the Pacific Highway, about 10am on Sunday.

About 20 people linked to so-called climate defence group Rising Tide climbed on to the train and used shovels to unload coal from the laden wagons, while another 30-odd provided support inside the rail corridor. A banner hung from the train read: “Survival guide for humanity: no new coal.”

A spokesperson for the group said about 50 people were arrested and moved out of the rail corridor.

Most were given future court attendance notices and released, but four were taken away by police.

The train was delayed for at least four hours.

Newcastle City police district Commander Supt Kylie Endemi told reporters on Sunday that 47 activists had been issued with court attendance notices and another three had been charged, two for alleged malicious damage and one for allegedly assaulting a security guard.

Endemi said police had been dealing with one of the protest organisers in the lead-up to Sunday morning. But she said the organiser had failed to provide proper detail about the action, rendering it unlawful.

She said 50 people entered the rail corridor on Sunday morning. Two activists were charged with malicious damage for allegedly damaging an entry gate.

“While we support everyone’s right to free speech, we certainly don’t tolerate any violence or the conduct of any unlawful activity.”

She said the protesters had been “by and large peaceful” and compliant with police requests.

“However, we have had one person charged with assault on a security guard and two others charged with malicious damage.”

Police deployed marine area command and its air wing to respond to the protest.

Those involved in Sunday’s protest said civil disobedience was the only option while NSW was significantly expanding its coal production.

Eight NSW coal projects awaiting approval this year would produce carbon emissions equivalent to 10 times the state’s annual CO2 budget, advocacy group Lock the Gate said in February.

“Rallies and campaigning within the system are clearly not working, so people like me who are terrified for our future are left with no option but civil disobedience,” renewable energy engineering student Jasmine Stuart said on Sunday.

“As the head of the UN said, the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”

Newcastle is the world’s largest coal export port, with thermal and metallurgical coal making up most of the $71bn of goods passing through each year.

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