Greenpeace and Esperanza captain in court

ENVIRONMENTAL group Greenpeace will face court tomorrow over a protest that brought one of Australia’s busiest coal export terminals to a standstill.

Greenpeace activists climbed a 50-metre-high coal loader at the Hay Point coal terminal, south of Mackay, on August 5 last year in protest over pollution caused by the expansion of the Australian coal industry.

At the end of the action, a Greenpeace boat, the Esperanza, moved in and blockaded the port, which is owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

Operations at Hay Point were stopped for 36 hours during the protest, with the Queensland Resources Council saying it cost state taxpayers about $1 million a day in royalties, and BHP about $13 million a day.

The 15 activists involved in the protest faced court last month, where they pleaded guilty and were fined.

Greenpeace and Captain Vladimir Votiacov, captain of the Esperanza, are due to face the Mackay Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.

It’s the first time in Australia that Greenpeace had been charged as an organisation.

Greenpeace is facing a charge of unsafely operating a ship and failing to report a ship’s movements under Queensland’s marine safety laws.

A Greenpeace spokeswoman said it expected a reprieve in court, with the prosecutor for Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) indicating to them in March the charges would be withdrawn.

“We’ve been told they will be withdrawn and we expect them to withdrawn in court tomorrow,” she said.

Votiacov still faces charges for maritime offences.

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