Protesters face court after anti-logging actions

Mr Howell clings to machinery to halt logging operations.


LAST Monday, Tom Howell and three others faced court over charges arising from protests against logging by Forestry Corporation.

Mr Howell and his three fellow protestors were charged after allegedly endangering members of the public by climbing onto a canopy outside the Forestry Corporation building in Coffs Harbour in May.

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He said that no brief of evidence was presented but that it appeared that the members of the public in danger were his fellow protesters.

That case was adjourned, to be heard on 30 August.

Mr Howell was also charged with offences arising from two days of protests that stopped logging at Wild Cattle Creek.

He has already pleaded guilty to charges of hiding tools and other equipment to hinder a person and failure to comply with a directive from an authorised officer, a Forestry Corporation employee.

Mr Howell has pleaded not guilty to failure to leave the area when directed by an authorised officer and
remaining on enclosed lands.

The latter plea is because Mr Howell, who represented himself, does not believe that a native forest meets the definition of enclosed land.

The magistrate agreed to remove a bail condition forbidding Mr Howell from entering Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, because he was no threat to the community.

This case will be heard on 4 August.

Mr Howell told News Of The Area that he has risked his liberty because, “After the bushfires we have an extinction crisis.”

He said that there are several court cases currently happening to protect native forests and despite protests and petitions the government persists with logging of native forests, so more direct action is needed.

He pointed to prosecutions of logging crews taken by the Environment Protection Authority last year after direct action in Wild Cattle Creek.

Mr Howell believes this indicates that as well as from stopping logging in the short term, direct action raises awareness of issues.

“Direct action has worked before, and, hopefully, it will continue to work.

“The only reason we have national parks now is because people were prepared to take action,” he said.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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