Friday, August 7, 2009

Coal activists surrender to police

By Francis Tapim

ABC News Online, Posted Fri Aug 7, 2009 8:11am AEST

Ten Greenpeace activists are due in court next week charged over a climate change protest in north Queensland.

The protest began on Wednesday when they chained themselves to the top of the Hay Point coal terminal near Mackay.

They wanted the Government to support a 45 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2020.

Six protesters were arrested on Wednesday and the remaining four surrendered to police last night. Police say they came down voluntarily.

They have all been charged with engaging in high risk activity.

Police say the Greenpeace ship Esperanza - which had been blocking access to the Hay Point Point terminal - left the port about 8:00pm (AEST).

The chief executive officer of the Queensland Resources Council, Michael Roche, says the "stunt" cost taxpayers about $1 million a day in lost coal royalties.

"But for the company of course and the ship owners and the coal companies, it's all extra cost," he said.

"When the ships can't do their job they're having to pay waiting fees and of course who knows what the cost is in terms of the emergency services and people that have been called in to deal with this incident."

Mr Roche says the blockade has been a major inconvenience for the coal supply network and comes at a time when the industry is trying to recover from the economic crisis.

"Just as we see the industry starting to re-employ people, lift production, lift exports, along come these idiots from Greenpeace and slow things down and place in jeopardy all the good work that's been done by the industry to try and lift itself out of a very difficult situation," he said.

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