Socialist Worker

Climate protesters defy police at Kingsnorth power station

by Guy Smallman
Issue No. 2114

Police attempt to block protesters at Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent last Saturday (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/» Guy Smallman )

Police attempt to block protesters at Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent last Saturday (Pic: » Guy Smallman)


The week-long climate camp in Kent climaxed last Saturday with mass civil disobedience at the Kingsnorth power station, in which some protesters managed to enter the station’s site.

The camp was protesting against the government’s plans for a new coal fired generator at Kingsnorth against environmental advice.

Organisers hailed the day as a victory, despite 50 arrests.

A speaker said the campaign was just beginning, and then added, “Power generated from renewable sources provides more jobs than coal power, so it makes sense for the local community as well as the environment.

“The government should invest in long term solutions rather than increasing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Police had subjected the entire area to a public order “Section 60”, which allows them to search everyone in a given area. They proceeded to aggressively search people through the week.

Many at the climate camp were shocked at the way the protest was policed. The Medway trades council executive will be discussing launching an inquiry into the policing operation.

Participants

The police tactics may have been intended to cause demoralisation, but they just increased the determination of the participants.

On Saturday morning demonstrators split into three colour-coded groups – an “orange” family demonstration, a “blue” waterborne protest and a “green” group determined to breach the station’s perimeter.

The orange action was the biggest and was joined by around 1,500 people. It marched to the gates of the station where a blockade and rally was held.

Local speakers told the gathering how Medway and the Hoo peninsula near the plant had the fourth highest level of childhood asthma in the country.

Meanwhile, the blue contingent attempted to blockade the power station by sea.

Most of their rafts were intercepted by police speedboats, though some activists made it onto the jetty.

The green mobilisation had left the camp early.

After an exhausting cross-country trek they arrived at the station’s perimeter and used barriers put up earlier by the police as ladders to climb the fence.

An electric fence erected for the occasion was also scaled. Riot police looked on as activists cheered those trespassing inside the exclusion zone.

Activists felt the camp had been a big success in building the campaign against the Kingsnorth power station and in raising wider awareness of the contribution of burning coal to climate change.

Renewable

Burning coal emits more carbon than either oil or gas, and carbon emissions are a key contributor to global warming.

However compared to many renewable energy sources, it is a cheaper way of generating electricity, and so a more attractive prospect for private energy companies.

If the Kingsnorth plant goes ahead it will be the trigger for the building of a wave of coal-fired power stations across Britain.

It will lead to an increase in carbon emissions and undermine the development of renewable energy. We need to build a mass movement to stop it.


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Article information

News
Tue 12 Aug 2008, 19:15 BST
Issue No. 2114
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