Five activists who earlier this month blocked the main road to Faslane Naval Base — home to the Trident nuclear programme — have been charged with breach of the peace and bailed to the end of April, with a May trial date.
On February 2nd the five, who are all from Faslane Peace Camp sited between the naval base and Shandon, held a lock-on outside the facility’s South Gate, causing a two-mile tailback and disrupting the military base’s schedules for two-and-a-half hours. The action was the latest in a campaign which stretches back to 1982 against the use (and more recently renewal) of the Polaris and Trident nuclear submarine systems, based at Faslane.
Bail conditions include a ban on approaching within 100 metres of the base, making it an offence for them to go their nearest shop for a pack of butter. It also bars them from attending the weekly Wednesday peace vigil at the north gate of Faslane, a tradition which has been ongoing for several years. One of the activists said:
This being my first arrest and witnessing the dehumanising methods of the system first hand, both during the action and in custody. What I experienced in custody really affected me and it has made me even more determined to stand up and resist the oppression no matter what the consequences.
The action was one of two recent protests sparked by the revelation of the Royal Navy misfiring of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile from the HMS Vengeance last June and questions surrounding the cover-up of the test results. Activists were also keen to express their solidarity with Put Down the Sword activists, who were fined for unlawful obstruction late last month after unsuccessfully arguing that they had a moral duty to disrupt activities at AWE Burghfield.
In a report about the 6.30am lock-on, members of the Faslane group said:
The lock-on crew was accompanied by three legal supporters and a photographer. The Ministry of Defence police arrived to the scene in some 20 minutes. Around here, the legal supporters are supposed to have the right to snap photos, feed bananas to protesters and observe that the cops at least try to behave.
This time the MoDs were having a rotten day. PC 470 (they just like to be identified, don’t they?) tried to bully the photographer off by threatening to “smash that camera if you don’t stop taking photos,” while other simply pushed two observers some 20 metres away, well behind a barrier of uniforms.
Not that we would’ve minded much. We were busy being amused by their continuous mishaps. At 7am the hobby-level cutting team from the base arrived, asking for suitable camera equipment: only to find out their colleagues couldn’t find any. Next thing you knew was that they’ve managed to get a bolt cutter stuck on somebody’s lock-on, unable to continue.
Thus, the traffic jam kept building up and road was nowhere close to get cleared before they managed to bring in the actual cutting team. On their arrival, the photographer was also tossed from the scene and view to locked-on activists blocked with police vehicles.
Activists at the Peace Camp say they need more interested people and funding for new caravans and to finish building a new communal space They are also holding an open day on Saturday February 25th, starting at 10am. This year marks 35 years since Faslane Peace Camp was founded, and the current crew hopes to be marking the anniversary later in 2017.