Activists Interrupt Coal Supply Destined for Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station - updated

Today 20 activists from Earth First! (1) stopped work at UK Coal's opencast coal mine near Shipley (2), Derbyshire. The protesters entered the site at 9.20am and climbed on top of machinery, intending to stay as long as possible, they are currently occupying 6 vehicles. This protest is part of a campaign to stop new coal mines and coal power stations in the UK. It follows hot on the heels of last week's Climate Swoop at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, where coal from Shipley is burnt.

**UPDATE, 4pm: work on site was stopped completely from 9am-1.30pm, with people occupying 6 large digging machines all over the opencast mines. Several people locked on to the machines.

The action ended at around 1.30pm, when all those who had not left the site earlier were arrested for aggravated trespass (11 people). Officers have now charged six women and five men with aggravated trespass. Tuesday 27th: Four of them were also charged with failing to leave the site when requested to do so. The defendants, aged between 22 and 46, are due to appear at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court next month. **

Shipley is one of over 30 new coal mines recently given the go ahead as part of the government's drive to expand opencast coal mining in the UK. This is to secure coal supply for the 6 proposed new coal power stations. The mine at Shipley alone will provide 1 million tonnes of coal over the next four years, equivalent to the release of 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Liz Cartmel, a protester at the site said “We recognise the important role coal mining has played in the local economy in the past, but at a time where our future survival hangs in the balance we need to work towards a future without climate destroying coal. Our only way out of the climate crisis is to reduce consumption and to use renewable energies such as wind and solar.”

Andrew Kirkman adds: “As local people can attest, the handful of jobs that opencastcoal mining provides hardly compensate for the noise, traffic and pollution that we have to suffer. Local people fought long and hard against the this mine, not just for our sakes but also for that of our children.”

A recent study into the health impacts of opencast mining shows that it is not only bad for the environment but also human health. Published in August 2009 the Coal Health Study found a much higher incidence of heart and respiratory diseases in areas blighted by opencast coal mining, than in the general population. (3)

This action is part of an upsurge in protests against new coal. Last week saw a 1000-strong blockade at Radcliffe-on-Soar power station near Nottingham. In South Lanarkshire a protest camp, complete with
treehouses, tunnels and other defences, is resisting coal extraction at Mainshill opencast mine – the sixth to open in the area. Protesters are currently preventing felling of woodland. On 5th October Ravenstruther coal rail depot was shut down for the day as protesters blockaded lorries from unloading coal onto trains destined for Drax power station in Yorkshire.

Press phone 0845 458 9595
Phone on Site 07722 727 065

Notes to the editor

(1)The principles behind Earth First! are non-hierarchical organisation and the use of direct action to confront, stop and eventually reverse the forces that are responsible for the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants. EF! is not a cohesive group or campaign, but a banner for people who share similar philosophies to work under.

(2)Shipley opencast mine hit the headlines last year when activists squatted a derelict house on the site to resist the opening of the site. The eviction lasted for nine days and raised the profile of UK Coal's activities in Derbyshire as well as their project costs.

(3)Details of the research can be found at www.coalhealthstudy.org