On Saturday 11th December activists from across the country took action in solidarity with the Huntington Lane protest camp at New Works, Telford in Shropshire. The protest camp has been occupying the land between Site A and Site B of a proposed open cast coal mine since early March but put out a call for help in October after UK Coal started preparatory work on the southernmost part of the site. In response to this callout, people descended upon the site and successfully protested at the entrance to the mine. No arrests were made. The protest came at the end of a successful gathering at the anti-coal site which saw skill sharing, plenty of vegan food and essential work done to the camp. The action also follows on from a number of recent actions at Huntington Lane that have been disrupting the work of UK Coal, last month at a similar gathering a group of digger divers successfully brought work on the mine to a standstill after trespassing onto the mine and jumping on to the earth movers.
There has never been any community consent for the mine and even the local council were originally opposed to the idea, in fact the only reason planning permission was granted was when central government stepped in to give the go ahead. There remains strong local opposition to the mine and continued support for the camp.
The 230 acre site is near the Wrekin which is part of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to a scheduled ancient monument. The flora and fauna of the boroughs largest ancient woodland which is considered by some to be some of the country’s most beautiful woodland is also threatened by the surface mine. Work on the mine is also destroying local habitats and bio diversity in the area.
When finished 900,000 tons of coal will have been extracted from the mine which will result in more than 2,430,000 tonnes of CO2 being released. This is unacceptable, coal is the most carbon intensive of all the fossil fuels and coal fired power stations like the one in nearby Telford (the final destination of the Huntington Lane Coal) are the least efficient type of power station with two thirds of the energy they generate being wasted. NASA’s leading climate scientist Dr James Hanson has said “It is moral turpitude, depravity, to build more coal-fired power plants or open cast mines, knowing what we know now. It was one thing to dig coal when we didn’t know the consequences, but quite another thing today”
(Video by You and I Films) Crude Awakening took a different approach to previous years mass direct actions, such as last years great climate swoop where the target is announced weeks in advance, with the day of action normally being a standoff with police, who like everyone else have also been warned weeks in advance. Crude Awakening was different in that a mass direct action was announced but the target kept a secret. Only that it would be an action against the oil industry somewhere in London. On the morning of the action people could choose to be part of one of three different Blocs that would end up converging at the final location. These were the Dirty Money Bloc, the Building Bloc and the Body Bloc meeting at Euston, Waterloo and Victoria respectively. At 10:00am SMS messages were sent to the different blocs directing them round London via the tube and eventually ending up at the final destination Coryton oil refinery, not in London but Essex. This proved to be the masterstroke as the police had been expecting something to happen in London so were taken off guard, which allowed 12 women to successfully handcuff themselves to two immobile vehicles on the only road leading to the refinery. Police took some of their frustrations out on the body bloc by delaying their train and performing a stop and search, a stop and search under the same law that was ruled to be illegal at Kingsnorth. The three blocs then started arriving to reinforce the blockade and set up a second blockade further down the road which also happened to be on a crossroads with the only road out of a second refinery owned by Shell. The secretive tactics paid off, as this the busiest oil refinery in the UK with hundreds of Oil tankers leaving every day was effectively shut down and 375,000 gallons of oil prevented from leaving.
It’s now just two weeks before the Camp for Climate Action hits Edinburgh for a week long frenzy of action against RBS and the banking system. The Royal Bank of Scotland has its fingers in as many disgusting pies as you’d expect from an organisation that used to style itself as the ‘oil and gas bank’ (until it realised that wasn’t doing much for it in terms of good publicity) – it funds companies involved in oil exploration in the Arctic circle, the militarily traumatised border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Alberta tar sands; it funds coal mining in Yorkshire and south Wales, mountain top removal in the US, and aluminum mining in India, as well as helping E.On in their attempts to get the Kingsnorth coal power plant up and running; it even gives money to BAE Systems. And we own it. Eighty-four per cent of it, anyway.