Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The winter of discontent, no new coal protests continue

This morning thirty campaigners from Coal Action Scotland together with local residents peacefully blockaded the entrance to the Scottish Coal-operated Ravenstruther coal rail terminal in South Lanarkshire. Having stopped its reopening after the weekend, this action is currently preventing the delivery of thousands of tonnes of coal to power stations across Scotland. Protestors intend to stay in place as long as possible

With Scotland’s CO2 emissions increasing significantly, continuing the consumption of coal will make it impossible for Scotland to meet its 80% target reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Angus Mcloud said “The fact is that the government will not meet its own targets. This confirms what climate protestors have believed all along – that the Scottish government is paying lip service to the dangers of climate change.”

CRW_6086 copy

The action is aiming to disrupt the operations of Scottish Coal and Scottish Power in the region. The protestors are acting to oppose the five open cast coal mines that deliver coal to the rail terminal and in resistance to the thirteen new open cast coal mines due to open in Scotland.

Protestors erected and scaled a 15ft scaffolding tripod, blocking trucks from entering the terminal. Others are locked by their necks to a conveyor belt and a bulldozer, preventing coal stockpiles from being loaded onto trains.

Tilly Gifford who is at the site said: “In the face of dangerous runaway climate change, increasing our dependence on coal – the most polluting of the fossil fuels – is simply unacceptable. We urgently need to make the transition to renewable energy and close existing mines. We shouldn’t even be thinking about new ones.”

The demonstration today is in support of communities opposing new open cast mines. Rebecca Mackenzie, a local resident said: “We’re here today to send a clear message that we don’t want parts of Scotland such as South Lanarkshire to become the most heavily mined areas in Europe, as they will be if permission is granted for all the new open cast coal mines currently being proposed. If sites such as Mainshill near Douglas can’t be stopped through legal avenues, then action will have to be taken to make sure these last remaining areas of un-mined countryside aren’t destroyed”.

Beth Whelan, the campaigner perched on the scaffolding tripod, said: “Local authorities, the Scottish government and companies such as Scottish Coal and Scottish Power are ignoring the scientific evidence on climate change. We have to take responsibility for our climate and our future, and stop the coal industry and its expansion. This is what we doing today: acting responsibly”.

It is estimated that 6,380 tonnes of coal were stopped from being transported from the coal mines to power stations, equivalent to 11,675,400 kg CO2 (11,675.4 tonnes) released into the atmosphere.

Coal Action Scotland apologizes to any workers affected by today’s demonstration, but in recognizing the desperate need to stop burning coal sees no other choice but to target the companies responsible for mining it.

The action lasted over 8 hours and resulted in 6 arrests and not a single chunk of coal was transported from the terminal.
Homepage: http://coalactionedinburgh.wordpress.com/

9 Days Coal- 4 years opencast mining- A lifetime of pollution!?!


Residents say no to new coal power
08 Dec Years of destruction for 9 days of power
YEARS spent plundering the landscape of Hartleyburn would only produce sufficient coal to run a power station for nine days, it has been claimed.

And now local residents say developer HM Project Development has its sights fixed so firmly on the money it would get for that 140,000 tonnes of coal, it is blatantly disregarding their fears and concerns.

HMPD has submitted an application to Northumberland County Council to extract the coal through opencast mining over a three and half year period from Halton Lea Farm, Halton Lea Gate.

But at a public meeting last Wednesday staged by the council and attended by over 100 residents, HMPD was accused not only of disregarding local concerns, but also of putting the health of local people – particularly young children – at risk.

Protesters decried the application – which is in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – saying it was unfair for HMPD to put them through years of disruption and turmoil for a few days’ power.

Resident Nicole Hudd said: “You are going to extract coal for nine days of supplies over three and a half years!

“Planning applications should only be granted if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but apart from the one advantage of making money for the developers, I can come up with 101 disadvantages with this scheme.”

Resident Nan White questioned the effect the opencast mining process would have on the health of residents and called into question the research conducted by environmental health expert Dr Tanja Pless-Mulloli.

In the 1990s Dr Pless-Mulloli, now professor of environ epidemiology at Newcastle University, was involved in a review of the health of children living near opencast sites.

According to her findings there was little evidence to suggest they were at an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

But Mrs White claimed that this survey had since been found to be unsafe, adding: “Dr Pless-Mulloli had to admit in later years a conflict of interests; plus these results are now outdated.”

Other concerns raised included the adverse impact of opencasting on wildlife, increased volumes of traffic and the detrimental impact on the landscape, particularly as the site falls within the North Pennines AONB.

Barney Corrigan of HMPD admitted the company was interested in the scheme to make a profit, but insisted residents would benefit in the long run.

After the coal was extracted, HMPD would restore the land for equestrian use, creating woodlands, ponds and wetlands.

He added: “In terms of the site itself, at the moment it suffers instability and that would be sorted out.

“There would also be a viable business there because agriculture does not stack up as a viable business at the minute.”

Responding to criticism that HMPD had been premature in placing a recruitment advert in the Hexham Courant, he said it had simply been a means of gauging interest in jobs at the site if the scheme got the go-ahead.

He said: “It was an advertisement not for jobs but for expressions of interest locally and there have been at least 60 people who have contacted us from Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, and Halton Lea Gate, funnily enough.”

Northumberland County Council has already received 72 objections to the application. Currently consulting with the public and statutory bodies, the council is unlikely to determine the application much before March next year.

From the Hexham Courant

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Want to learn more about micro renewable technology or do have have experience of using small scale turbines/solar panels & want to share your knowledge?
Come along to the Star and Shadow on the 9th December for an evening of informal discussion,watch a couple of films and have some food.

As governments & their capitalist system begin to crumble we need to provide for each other and ourselves,by learning skills to make your own energy you can free yourself from those dreaded gas/elec bills that only make the rich richer.Personal energy autonomy is one of the first steps toward a cleaner, greener ,more equal world.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

15th Newcastle community green festival

The lovely folks at the green festival have put a shout out for people to get involved in the festival this year, both the management committee and the organising group need more people to get on board.
The festival is the largest FREE environmental event in the U:K attracting up 16 000
people over the weekend.
The theme of this years fetival is 'your planet needs you- stand up to climate change'

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Report: Class,climate change and coal conference

The debate was well attended and very well organised.
Dave Douglass(former num & iww ) spoke first about the environment and 'clean' coal place within the environment,As expected Dave spoke clearly and passionately for coal , though at one point he came close to stating that climate change was not being accelerated by human activity!

Next to speak was Arthur Scargill. Mr Scargill gave a robust defence of coal and spoke strongly against other forms of environmental degradation especially nuclear power.His speech was well balanced and factual.It was a pleasure to hear Mr Scargill talk,but he was not the charismatic speaker of the 1980's it felt a bit like an after dinner circuit speaker, not the iconic figure we are used too.(mr Scargill chose to go over his allotted time and not to remain for the debate)

Dr Paul Chatterton from Leeds uni followed mr Scargill,(it should be noted that paul and all the speakers from the green movement stated that they were NOT spokesperson from the climate camp) Dr Chatterton gave his reasons for not using coal as a power source, giving clear and factual evidence on climate change and the social conditions in other countries without health and safety laws or unions to help protect the workers.

The president of the N.U.M Ian lavery followed Paul chatterton. Mr lavery delivered a loud and uncompromising speech in defence of coal mining and the combustion of coal,his presentation was laddish,bhol-shy and at points mildly sexist.The accuracy of his facts were also questioned from the floor(from a parsons engineer that helped build Drax)

The chair of the meeting then opened the floor up for debate,at this point it became clear that there was a diverse mix of people attending the debate. Questions came forward from environmental activists,union officials,anarchists and socialists.After a bit healthy debate there was a break for lunch.

After lunch there was a change to the chairperson of the meeting.

Davie Guy a long respected union official spoke gently about C.C.S technology,he was very clear and factual in his presentation.He also spoke with sadness about the current state of the unions within the U:K. One of many points of agreement was opposition to open cast mining and to dirtier coal burning technologies.

Paul Morrozo followed Mr Guy, Paul spoke in particular about the Proposed new power station at Kingsnorth and it's effect on climate change. During Pauls presentation the 'chair' of the meeting continually cut in and added comments.Mr Morrozo Patience was remarkable.The chair then cut paul 10 mins short stating that we were short on time, The chair then used this opportunity to give his opinion on the supposedly naive arguments of the green movement.The 'chair' David Hopper an N.U.M official was challenged by one of the other invited speakers and asked to chair the meeting properly,many people from the floor also asked Mr Hopper not to abuse his position,one of the people from the floor that challenged Mr Hooper was female Mr Hoopers reply was clearly sexist this lead to a furious response, in particular from the anarchists.Mr Hopper chose to resign the position of chair without apology.

After order had been resumed it was the turn of the R.M.T unfortunately Bob Crowe couldn't make it so a regional official of thr R.M.T spoke about the prospects of moving coal by train(apologies for not knowing the speakers name)

The final speaker Kevin Bland spoke on local issues in particular opencast mining and the urgent need to defend our natural environment, Kevin spoke in depth about ecology being a class issue and gave a strong anti-capitalist analysis of environmental degradation.

The chair then opened the debate to the floor,again there was healthy constructive debate.

Overall it was a good event that brought out many positives,there is common ground between grass roots environmentalists and the energy workers.Hopefully the two groups can continue to engage and work together.
The anarchist film collective filmed the days events they hope to make a short film around the debate.
Thanks to the NUM for organising this event and in particular Dave Douglass for his efforts.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

wake up, freak out - then get a grip

A good, simple yet non patronizing short film explaining climatic feedback systems.

Look for more information on wakeupfreakout.org

During the 2008 climate camp at kingsnorth, Unsustainable agrifuels were highlighted.
30 People from around the country blockaded the Vopak refinery in Essex.The video above explains a little about the problems with agrifeuls.


Biofuels are driving climate change literally,instead of growing food to feed the millions in the world without a meal,large business is growing crops to make diesel!

Class, Climate Change and Clean Coal

1st November 2008, Newcastle, 11.30 -5.30

This all day conference has been organised by supporters of coal in reaction to the climate camp. We have agreed to participate in this important debate with Dave Douglass, Arthur Scargill and others.

Dave Douglass report on climate camp with responses is here:

Another report on climate camp with responses is here:

"Clean Coal; never was there an oxymoron more dangerous"

Join the Camp for Climate Action
“Every striking worker gives up earning a living and puts his family in hardship for the greater good, for the principle, for a better future. We contend that this is the same principle.” Battle for the Trees, Merrick
The class struggle: "Must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth." Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World
Garment workers in Bangladesh are suffering from severe flooding as a consequence of Climate Change. Under the present system, Corporations and States compete to exploit our labour and our natural resources. Capitalists choose profit over the welfare of the people. The land owning class use our land for industrial agriculture. The Camp for Climate Action is organized without hierarchy, with neighborhoods governing themselves. This model of self government has its history in the workers industrial unions.
The 2008 Camp for Climate Action is to be held near to the proposed site for a new coal fired power station. E-on, the company that wants to build the power station has stated that it will be “Carbon Capture and Storage ready”. C.C.S is still in an early development stage and has not been used on such a large scale.
“The International Energy Agency (IEA) describes a “capture-ready” plant as one “which can be retrofitted with CO2 capture when the necessary regulatory or
economic drivers are in place”. This definition is broad enough to make any station theoretically “capture-ready”, and the term meaningless.” False Hope, Greenpeace
Workers in the Renewable Energy Industry, in the Nuclear Industry and in the Fossil Fuels Industry should organise ourselves together into one powerful, international union. We need to be free to debate our many disagreements and to act together on what we agree on because our strength is in our diversity.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Film and disscusion

On the 9th of October at the Star and shadow cinema,byker, newcastle upon tyne. A film night to watch a few short films around climate change and discuss what action can be taken.
£4/3 or donations, free to asylum seekers.
see you there??

What next??

For a week in August 2008, at a camp near Kingsnorth power station, climate change activists worked together to live sustainably, learn new skills and take direct action against climate change. This camp did not happen in isolation there have been previous mobileisations in 2007 a camp was set up at Heathrow in oppostion to the building of a 3rd runway,in 2006 the first climate camp took place at Drax power station ( the U:ks largest single source of co2 ) In 2005 the G8 summit was staged in Gleneagles a camp was set up to oppose the G8'S(nations) domination of the people and planet.
What can we learn from these camp's? How can we work together locally and effectivley to tackle the huge issue of climate change?

The norths second black gold rush

The North East’s second Gold rush

The 2008 camp for climate action is to be held near to the proposed site for a new coal fired power station. E-on the company that wants to build the power station has stated that it will use a system called Carbon Capture and storage. C.C.S is still in an early development stage and has not been used on such a large scale. The power station will have to begin life without any c.c.s meaning mega-tons of unfiltered Co2 emissions’ heading into our atmosphere .

The climate camp(www.climatecamp.org.uk) at Kingsnorth in the Medway valley will highlight and take direct action against the black hole in the governments climate change policy. COAL.

Power stations like Eggbrough, Drax and Kingsnorth produce huge amounts of filthy emissions, drax alone produces approx 21 millions tones of Co2 per year.
All this coal has to come from somewhere and it would ‘seam’ the money men have set their greedy eyes on the north of England again.
U:k coal and the banks group have several planning application to surface mine/open cast across the North East.
*Bradley Co. Durham- 550 000 tonnes
*Park wall north Co. Durham- 1 275 000 tonnes
*potland burn Northumberland- 2 000 000 tonnes
*Shotton Northumberland- 3 000 000 tonnes
*An extension to the exsisting site at widdrington

In addition to these applications there is already one of the largest open cast sites in the U:K at Stobswood near Morpeth. Surface mining sites are also operating in Widdrington, Blagdon estate in Northumberland. Steadburns and stoney heap near to Consett Co. Durham.

In the case of shotton/cramlington planning application, Shotton is in an opencast constraint area which means that there is a presumption against Surface mining. Northumberland county council up held the constraint and re-jected the application. However the communities and local government secretary Hazel Blears M.P Stepped in and overruled the county council allowing the opencast operation to go ahead much to dismay of the local community
(www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2008/02/08/ministers-quizzed-on-opencast-policy-61634-20450633/ )
The potland burn site is also in a constraint area yet U:K coal has still lodged an application probably because they feel the political climate is in their favor.

As if the ecological destruction, industrial injuries/deaths and disruption to the community that opencast mining leaves behind Npower have stated that they have an imminent planning application to build a new coal fired power station in Blyth on the site of the existing power station. Construction is due to begin 2014 on the same timeline as Kingsnorth.
Whilst the focus is on the climate camp and Kingsnorth, the North of England and our resources are central to the U:K government and their capitalist bosses plans for a new generation of dirty power stations .
This new generation of coal fired power stations and the unacceptable mining practices that accompany them must be stopped.
One of the key features of the climate camp is direct action.
The Banks group have offices in West Cornforth near Ferryhill, U:K coal headoffices are in Doncaster’ leave it in the ground’ have began regular noise demos outside the offices.All opencastsites are easily accessable

Links and info: