UK - Thousands take direct action on climate change
UK Climate Camp Besieges Power StationUK Indymedia 10 Aug 2008 18:39 GMT
In the first activity of the camp, from Sunday 27th of July to Sunday 3rd of August, the 'Heathrow to Kingsnorth Climate Caravan' that traversed London by foot and wheels, made it's way to the Climate Action Camp 2008 near Kingsnorth power station in Kent [Pics] The 60 mile Caravan route, that mostly followed the south side of the Thames, started near Heathrow Airport after a Climate Conference had taken place on Saturday 26th in Harlington [Pics 1 | 2] The Caravan was hosted along its route by local communities who supported the participants with food and accommodation. A series of events took place every night to act as local outreach in the run up to the Camp, as well as to meet and share experiences with local people and groups taking collective action against the root causes of climate change in their communities.
The caravan, that was supported by the Bicycology cyclists' collective and the Notts Veggies, was joined by a group from Bristol, whilst other Caravans left Scotland and Nottingham for Kingsnorth too. A Little Peace Boat also sailed it's way to join the Climate Camp protesters before moving on to Westminster. Reports: 29.07.08 Climate camp caravan - film stop | Climate & Capitalism, Climate Caravan Visits The City [Press Release] | News from the Climate Caravan | Caravan tour of Liverpool St | Climate Camp Caravan at Oxleas Wood 31-7-08 | No New Coal March - Rochester | Caravan and March to Climate Camp 3-8-08 [Video]
Wednesday 30th July: The site for this year's Camp for Climate Action was taken successfully occupied, just a few fields from the Kingsnorth Coal Power Plant. In a flurry of activity around 100 campaigners began setting up the camp at 3pm erecting tripods to prevent police from moving them and a banner which reads 'No New Coal' See Report and Pics | Gallery 1, 2 | Video: Camp is Open
Thursday 31st July: In a much criticised move, Police raided the Climate Camp on Thursday evening, under the guise of searching for items which could be used for criminal damage. Although police claimed to be searching for materials that could be used on the 9th August day of action, their search focused on items such as guy-ropes for safely securing marquees, radios used in medical emergencies, and building materials essential for the construction of compost toilets as well as water piping. The seizures went as far as the confiscation of such ridiculous items as a bicycle repair kit, three board games and a pack of children's crayons. Other items taken included kitchen equipment and computer cables. Other equipment including construction wood was saved from confiscation by campaigners taking direct action. By the end of the day there had been 6 arrests, but the setting up continued and campers even found time to play a game of football with local residents. See Photos and Report | Camp Press Release | Report 2, 3 | Footie report
Friday 1st August: Construction of the camp continued apace. The local council instructed the water board to install a water supply at the entrance of the camp. It was also the first day for the media to come on site and be shown around. The temporary Field IMC at the Camp for Climate Action, got on-line and up and running. Meanwhile in the morning 20 activists successfully blockaded the only access gate to Cargill's European regional head office in Cobham, Surrey. 8 activists locked on to the gates closing the site down completely. Agrobusiness giant Cargill were being targeted by the protesters for their role in rainforest destruction and land-grabbing as well as for profiteering from the food crisis. See Report | Pics | Feature
Saturday 2nd August: Police continued to confiscate essential camp infrastructures from people arriving, while the main marquee could not be set up as Police still had key parts which they took on Thursday. After negatiations some of the items seized were returned later in the evening, including materials for disabled access and toilets. The Police Forward Intelligence Team made a foray onto the field but were ejected from the field by campers - see report. Meanwhile campaigners in the High Peaks area staged a demonstration to call for the re-opening of the Woodhead Tunnel and the Manchester to Sheffield rail line - see report. People arriving for the camp were searched thoroughly by Police, but numbers continued to swell.
Monday 4th August: The police deemed it necessary to storm the camp again, this time with riot police. People at the camp however eventually managed to peacefully remove the officers off the site. At 5am police massed at both gates of the camp. They broke windows of vehicles and towed at least one vehicle away. The standoff continued for a number of hours. Several arrests were reported, and medics have rushed to the back gate following reports of pepper spray being used. Ambulances were called but experienced difficulty getting to the camp. The police stopped their attempt to enter the site and left both gates at around 8.30am.
Throughout the morning, a large number of police vans continued to be at the back gate of the camp. Riot police (TSG), some of who were unmarked and masked stood in formation in front of about 200 people in a sitdown blockade. The atmosphere was positive, people had their breakfasts, drinking tea and singing. Reports:   | Photos:  | Video: 
However, at around 2.30pm riot police managed to enter the camp site. Officers forced their way in through two gates and claimed to be 'patrolling the site'. Activists slowly moved the police off by forming a line with hands in the air. Officers were eventually forced to retreat. It became apparent that police took down part of the fencing dividing the neighboring land and the camp and came in through the breach. A police helicopter flew overhead, and people were up in tripods. To the credit of the activists, it seemed that people refused to be provoked by the agressive behaviour from police. Campers continued to arrive as normal and workshops continued also.
Mass harrassment, terror tactics, theft, lies and propaganda, excessive force: the relentless campaign of intimidation by police at this years Climate Camp that started with raiding the camp and confiscating essential equipment, has also now included the premeditated political use of blanket stop and search, night-time terrorising of the climate camp site, confiscating pushbikes, blockading food supplies, and harrassment of media and legal observers.
Wednesday 6th August: Very early in the morning police attempted to terrorise the camp with a low-flying helicopter and by storming the gates with sirens blaring and riot cops shouting. The same night police cut locks and took away bikes after telling people to leave their bikes in the car park. From the beginning the police used excessive force against climate campers (photos) including women, children and legal observers. See newswire post on police bullying.
On-site media also suffered intimidation from the noisy low-flying police helicopter, while reporters and photographers were held outside, some for hours. The day after, vans delivering food were stopped and forced to unload a mile from the site. Climate campers soon came together to defend the site against the police incursions and resist the blanket stop and search(pics & audio), with many commenting that the repeated heavy attempts to enter the camp 'are radicalising a new generation of activists'. Photos of Wednesdays mass 'breakout' here.
Police were given extended stop and search powers on Thursday, they can now stop and search anyone without needing to have reasonable grounds to do so. The pre-meditated political use of blanket stop and search is well known to be unlawful under the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act, Section A. Such searches cannot be based on 'generalisations or stereotypical images'. The Camp For Climate Action Legal Support team wrote to the police about the legality of their exercise of powers of seizure. As if the harrassment and intimidatory tactics weren't enough, police resorted to disinformation via the mainstream media, claiming an outbreak of dysentry in the camp and the unearthing of a 'secret weapons stash'. Also see: Legal info for climate campers | Arrests list | Fitwatch pictures
Thursday 7th August: Despite the overzealous police attention, people took action at sites across the South East on Thursday 7th August, the sixth day of the camp. Climate activists shut down the Vopak fuel depot in Thurrock, the biggest holder of biofuels in the South of England. At Gatwick Airport, activists dropped banners at the main concourse of the airport and at the trainstation while others locked themselves to railings. In London, 15 students staged a die-in in front of the Royal Bank Of Scotland HQ while lying in a pool of oil. Eon’s replica of the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station at the Legoland park in Windsor was occupied by one inch tall climate change campaigners.
Climate activists from around the country shut down the Vopak fuel depot in Thurrock, which is the biggest holder of biofuels in the South of England. Police violently dragged locked on protester in human chain out of road at the site. There were light injuries and people screaming in pain. Apart from the people who locked onto the road, people were also locked onto the staircase of silo. Related articles: Climate Activists Shut Down South's Biggest Biofuel Base | Pics from Today's Vopak Agrofuel Action | Biofuels Action Explained - Audio from Vopak Blockade
Fifteen dead bodies lay in a pool of oil blocking the entrance to RBS London HQ at Liverpool Street. Students staged a 'die-in' blockade to highlight the devastating effects of climate change. The protesters demanded RBS stop funding destructive fossil fuel projects which will create climate catastrophe. The action took place as part of the climate camp and is co-ordinated by the student action network PANDA. A report released today by a coalition of environmental NGOs reveals that RBS is estimated to have been involved in providing loans of over $20 billion to coal-related companies in the last two years – including the energy company E.ON.
Head of Climate Change Campaigns at People & Planet, Bronwen Thomas said: “Thousands of climate change activists are currently gathered at the Climate Camp in Kingsnorth to oppose E.ON's plans to build the first coal-fired power station in the country for 33 years. Coal is the dirtiest fuel there is. Opening coal fired power stations is madness - We should be stopping climate change not making it worse”. Related articles: Another climate camp action - Students Killed at Royal Bank of Scotland's HQ | audio about the action (mp3) | Photos of Climate Action at Royal Bank Of Scotland HQ, London
At Gatwick Airport, activists dropped banners at the main concourse of the airport and at the trainstation. The banner in the main concourse of the airport reads "Stop Short Haul". Two activists locked onto railings with handcuffs, whilst others wearing T-shirts with slogan 'Can I hinder' leafletted passengers. Action lasted 15 minutes, no arrests. Second banner at Gatwick train station reads "Let The Train Take The Strain". Related article: Plane Stupid leaves Camp for Climate Action for protest at Gatwick
E.ON’s replica of the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station was occupied by one inch tall climate change campaigners. The drama unfolded at the Legoland park in Windsor – sponsored by E.ON – where the Lego Kingsnorth is given pride of place next to Big Ben and Canary Wharf. The six campaigners appeared at the top of the construction at around 11am in the morning, before unveiling a banner saying STOP CLIMATE CHANGE down the length of the tower. Lego police are in attendance at the foot of the tower, along with a Lego police helicopter. Related article: World's smallest campaigners scale Kingsnorth smokestack
Meanwhile, police saw their opportunity to move in to evict Bodge House, a disused farmhouse on the proposed site of an open cast coal mine, which was occupied in June. The site, near Shipley, Derbyshire is now the scene of hordes of police and bailiffs as they try make their way through the house's defences. With people hidden in tunnels and locked in lock-ons, the eviction is estimated to last 2-3 days.
Around 7.45am about 60 police and 50 bailliffs arrived at the Bodge House squat in Shipley, Derbyshire and have launched a full eviction attempt. The house is located on the site of a proposed open cast coal mine. Throughout the day the police have been trying to get through the barricades and defences. Local people and media have been at the scene. So far 3 people have been removed from lockons and a cargo net outside the house and have been arrested. 7 people are still inside and are heavily barricaded in, included being hidden in tunnels under the house. The bailiffs have put up security fences and although they have managed to enter part of the building, the eviction attempt has been stopped for today. It is estimated the eviction will take at least another couple of days. Related articles: Derbyshire Coal Mine Occupation - Eviction Happening Now | Short audio - Bodge House eviction | Eviction Of Coal Mine Protest Site (Bodge House) - pictures
Bowl Court social centre in London was also evicted at much the same time. At 7am, 40 high court bailiffs started evicting the Bowl Court squatted social centre in Shoreditch. One of the officers was reported saying 'we're not stupid, we knew you'd all be at the Climate Camp'. Related articles: Bowl Court Evicted This Morning - Call Out For Help | bowl court evicted!?
Saturday 9th August: This was the Climate Camp Day of Mass Action, when "the climate camp will go beyond talk and culminate in a spectacular mass action to shut down Kingsnorth. Permanently!" Campaigners intended to try and shut down the power station by land sea and air, with four main colour-coded "blocs." The Blue Bloc (or Great Rebel Raft Regatta) attempted to approach Kingsnorth power station by water along the River Medway. Not wanting to be outdone, the Silver Bloc had planned to approach from above. The Green Bloc meanwhile focused on making its way through the undergrowth, with the Orange Bloc completing the set with a children-friendly march to the main gates. As in previous years, there have been actions targetting climate criminal throughout the camp, but this was the day when the large numbers brought together by the event coordinated their activities in order to maximise disruption.
The Blue Bloc promised "a futuristic flotilla of crafts of every shape and size, from recycled rafts, to viking ships, pirate punts to gondolas". The police quickly moved to ban this event ostenisbly under Section 21 of the Medway Ports Byelaws and confiscated the safety boat which was supposed to accompany the flotilla at 8am on Saturday morning.
Undeterred, 9 rafts, 11 treasure island boats, 8 kayaks and 1 currach (made and hidden in the woods the previous night) were successfully launched on the Medway to converge on the coal loading jetty. Eight kayaks got very close to the station and were detained, but not arrested. Three people did manage to reach the jetty and almost got over the fence, meanwhile other rafters dropped a banner reading "COAL: Starter Gun For Climate Chaos", on a fort opposite the power station.
One raft did break up in the river, but the campers, all wearing lifejackets, were able to clamber onto a nearby BBC media boat. Bizarrely, a number of BBC reports have subsequently claimed that 120 people had to be rescued from the Medway (see for instance this report on BBC 5 Live), presumably basing this wholly inaccurate claim on a confusingly worded statement by Kent Police which reports that "Police boats and the Medway Ports Authority Harbour Masters’ launch took 123 people out of the water," and claims, "many of the protesters, say the officers, were very glad to be rescued."
The Green Bloc left the camp via a back fence, but quickly picked up a police escort. Nevertheless, once they reached the power station, cheeky protesters dismantled the first fence and used it as a ladder to climb over the second one. Happily, E.ON have decided not to emulate the repressive tactics of the Kent police and switched off the electric fence – the final fence surrounding the power station - as soon as the protesters got near it. A seperate branch of the Green Bloc managed to breach the first fence and hang a banner on the inside.
The Orange Bloc left the camp shortly after 9am, with big multi-coloured dragon. There was a good atmosphere with mainstream media in attendence. The march was held up in the lane outside the main gate. Police were told that people would not arrive until 10am and would not let them move until that time. Although the march was largely chilled out with lots of singing and chanting as the sun shone, there was at least one arrest for criminal damage/resisting arrest and a brief fracas which resulted in several protesters being truncheoned by police.
Around 1,000 people marched to the gate where they held a party. There was a brief "freeze" by this group to symbolise the need to freeze economic growth. The police informed campaigners (from a helicopter) that "if you do not disperse by 1pm, dogs, force and long handed battons will be used." Most people left and returned to the camp, but a small group refused to leave as a protest in response to police threats of violence and were surrounded by riot police. Arrests were made for violation of the restrictions imposed on the march. People passively resisted arrest and several were dragged away.
Unfortunately, strong winds appeares to have put paid to the plans of the Silver Bloc. Nevertheless, a number of actions did take place. A banner reading, "Shut Down Kingsnorth" was hung from a pylon by 4 climbers who then occupied the structure and were later arrested. A group of Christians on the Orange Bloc sat down near the gates to the powerstaion and prayed for forgiveness for all the damage the plant has created during its life-time and sung simple chants.
Photos: Knives out for the GRRR! | GRRR....launch pictures at last | Silver Group: Patsy The CCS Pig Flies! - Action Day Pics | Police at the gate of Kingsnorth | Children of the Kingsnorth March 9th August 2008 | Christian Cafe Crew give Last Rites to Kingsnorth | Kingsnorth Fence Breach Pictures | Climate Hazard Raft Banner at Kingsnorth Pics | Orange Group March: Climate Camp 2008 | Breaching the Kingsnorth Fence | Rebel Raft Protest Land on Kingsnorth Jetty - Pics | Rebel raft approaching Kingsnorth | Orange Bloc Protest - March to Kingsnorth Pictures | electric pylons-kingsnorth protest photoset | Protestors using 1st fence to scale 2nd fence at Kingsnorth | Photos of protestors at Kingsnorth fences | Pics Orange Bloc / Kids March leaving camp | Green Bloc Heading Towards Kingsnorth
Newswire: E.ON's Defences Breached Following Olympic Efforts by Protesters | Video of climate camp orange bloc march to Kingsnorth | Climate Camp Radio - Saturday evening show for download | Climate Camp 2008 March to Kingsnorth | Police Assault Teenage Activists at the Climate Camp Children's Revolution | Eco Hero Kayak Crew splash out on the Medway | Climate Camp Radio - Saturday lunchtime show for download | Kayakers arrested in the Medway | Climate Camp Radio, day of mass action. Listen to live stream 1pm and 7pm. | Children's Revolution March From Climate Camp on Kingsnorth Day of Mass Action | Rebel Regatta and Section 21 of the Medway Ports Byelaws | Climate Camp Silver Group- Call Out For Flying Devices | Children's Revolution at the Camp for Climate Action Plans Peace Campaign
Sunday 10th August: Most people left the site on Sunday, although some stayed until Thursday to help with the taking down of marquees and to clean. However, campaigners did say they will return if Kingsnorth gets the go-ahead: "we are not going to let that power station be built. So if the government gives the go-ahead over the next few weeks then we're going to come back and stop it. That means we're going to be there in front of the bulldozers, we're going to be there in front of the construction trucks and so on. But also people all around the country will be taking direct action, against the companies and firms and contractors."
It seems more climate action is in store for sites across the globe. Belgium's first Klimaat Axie Kamp will take place in Antwerp from 10th - 17th August (see article - in dutch), meanwhile, there will be a 'KlimaCamp' in Hamburg from the 15th - 24th August (see article). Quebec's camp gets going from August 8th to 24th in Beaumont near Lévis in the south, where climate activists will be gathering in resistance to a planned $840 million project to build a natural gas terminal (see website in french or article in English). Further afield, the Australian climate camp last month (July 10th – 15th) saw six days of workshops and grassroots direct action aimed at stopping the expansion of the world's biggest coal port, in Newcastle (see article).
In the US, campaigners, inspired by the UK climate camp, held two climate convergences on the West Coast and Southeast of the country and a climate confluence in the Northeast. This is a step forward from last year when they organised two. Campaigners from the Southeast convergence occupied the welcome center for Dominion’s North Anna nuclear power plant for two hours in protest against Dominion’s plans to build two new nuclear reactors and to call out nuclear power for the false solution that it is to the climate crisis (see article).
In New Zealand, activists are coming together to organise a climate camp in the country, but there is a lot of capaigning against climate change and the coal industry to build on. Since January 2006 activists have been occupying Happy Valley on the West Coast of New Zealand in an effort to halt development of an opencast coal mine by State-owned Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd. The occupation consists of a permanent legal campsite - the area of land being occupied is still public land. See: savehappyvalley.org.nz | walkingthewalk.org.nz