On Monday 26th April, people involved in the Rising Tide Network
literally put their necks on the line by blockading the railtrack which
carries coal from the controversial open-cast mine at Ffos-y-Fran in
Merthyr Tydfil to Aberthaw Power Station. It took the combined efforts
of British Rail Police and South Wales Police over 8 hours to remove the
last of the protesters at 8.10pm on Monday evening.

18 People from Bristol and Bath are due in court on 10th May, charged
under the Malicious Damages Act of 1861, a law to protect the interests
of 19th Century rail owners. If convicted they face anything up to a
life sentence in prison. The 18 People, who are part of the Rising Tide
(UK) Network were held for over 24 hours, and were only allowed to phone
out after 11.00 am yesterday (Tuesday). The house of one of those
involved was raided by 8 police officers who spent 3 hours searching
their home.

Kim Green from Rising Tide (UK) said:

“We are protesting the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels
in the face of a global climate emergency. The failure of the Copenhagen
climate talks to deal with this huge problem, and the obvious policy
inadequacy the three main UK parties contesting the general election to
take the necessary action to tackle the problem has highlighted the need
for the people to take grass-roots direct action.”

Kim Green continues:

“This action is also in support of the local people of Merthyr Tydfil
whose campaign 'Residents Against Ffos-y-Fran' has been fighting the
mine for over six years. The mine causes noise pollution for up to 16
hours a day, dust and dirt are carried into the town by the wind, and it
turns the rain black.”

The process by which Miller-Argent were able to get the go ahead to
exploit this resource at the social cost of both the local and global
community failed to take into consideration the social-environmental
impact of such projects, highlighting the democratic deficit in the
planning process. The newly formed quango “The Planning Commission” will
only make these things worse, being able to ignore any consideration in
favour of profit.

Miller Argent have been quick to pressure their small workforce into
mobilising against local concerns - but their apparent concern for their
workers is betrayed by the fact that they are actually looking to sell
the mine as there is only half the quantity of high quality coal as they
initially believed. They are in fact making a loss on the project.

On the potential life sentence, a spokesperson for the 18 said:

“We would not anticipate facing any such penalty as we took great care
to ensure the safety of all taking part and had made certain that the
coal train would not leave the loading area before the line was blocked.”

“This was a carefully planned action: hence it's success. However, we
admit that it was a drastic course of action but even this barely
matches the climate crisis we will face if much more radical measures
are not taken now.”

All 18 have been bailed to appear at Merthyr Tydfill Magistrates Court
on 10th May at 10.00 am.

*** Aberthaw Power Station is the biggest polluter in Wales. In 2006 it
released 7.4. million tonnes of Co2. It is Projected to run until 2025
with NO PLANS to fit carbon capture storage (CCS) technology. 40% of the
coal for the power station is supplied by Ffos-Y-Fran. It was targeted
by Bristol & Cardiff Rising Tide in 2008.

*** Miller Argent own and run Ffos-Y-Fran. Argent are in turn owned by
the BT Pensions Group. Both of these organisations make much of their
ethical and sustainable practices. But in this case they seem to be
placing profits over and above any element of social responsibility.