Protesters stop coal train at Sandgate: three arrested and charged

PROTESTERS put a halt to coal train movements at Sandgate on Monday, effectively blocking the rail passage into Newcastle Port.

The group from Frontline Action on Coal caused the shutdown about 7am.

One activist, identified by the group as university student Sarah Barron, setup a large tripod on the tracks and suspended herself over the rail line. The entire incident was live-streamed by the group on social media.

“Australia exports more coal than any other country, this makes us one of worst contributors to climate change,” a statement from Ms Barron read.

“Setting domestic emissions targets — something our governments have so far failed to do — is not enough.”

Police were called to the scene and can be seen on video trying to coax the protester from the tracks. Ms Barron was later safely removed from her post and taken into police custody.

Officers arrested two women – aged 20 and 24 – and a 32-year-old man.

The older woman and man were charged with enter inclosed lands interferes with, or attempts or intends to interfere with, the conduct of the business or undertaking and cause obstruction to railway locomotive or rolling stock.

The younger woman was charged with enter inclosed land or not prescribed premises without lawful excuse and cause obstruction to railway locomotive or rolling stock.

They were all granted conditional bail and are due to appear at Newcastle Local Court on Thursday October 4.

Newcastle City Police District Commander Superintendent Brett Greentree, said public safety is the first priority when it comes to protest activity.

“We support the rights of individuals and groups to protest peacefully, but not when it impedes on their safety and the safety of others,” Supt Greentree said.

“Entering a rail corridor is extremely dangerous and it’s lucky no one was seriously injured in the incident.”

The protest was a promotion for the group’s Newcastle meet up scheduled later this month. 

Frontline Action on Coal is a community led, non-violent action group against fossil fuel development and expansions.

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