Court cases have opened today at Merthyr Tydfil court as prosecutions are brought against five Reclaim the Power and Earth First! activists for their action against Miller Argent’s Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine last month [Update: They were ordered to pay £10,000 compensation].
The five “canaries” in the coal mine shut the site after chaining themselves to two excavators and blocking the freight road in in an effort to disrupt supplies to energy firms and have been charged with aggravated trespass.
The action is one of a series against the company over the last couple of years, including in May last year when hundreds of people mass trespassed on the Ffos-y-fran site. The firm has been trying to expand its operations in the teeth of resistance from locals, and in March faced heavy criticism over its impact on health in the region from UN experts, who have recommended a full inquiry into the controversial mine.
Campaigners have been expressing increasing disquiet at the politicised nature of policing over energy recently, particularly related to controversial frack gas extraction, as increasingly confrontational and aggressive tactics have been used by the police against protests at the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road near Blackpool
As a result, on May 17th NetPol is calling a “Stop Trampling On Our Freedom to Protest [FB]” event starting 1pm at Kirkham Police Station, Preston, Lancashire. Campaigners will hand in a letter to incoming Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, calling on him to participate personally in an open public meeting on the policing of protests and to listen to the questions and concerns of local people. The first linked court cases may have already started by that point.
Actions have been taking place every week across the country, from stalls in Huddersfield to direct actions against Barclays Bank in Bristol and Edinburgh. A lock-on early last week meanwhile saw Bolton-based engineering firm A E Yates blockaded despite aggressive assault by company staff:
In the medium term the next big event is set to be a month-long “rolling resistance” in July at Preston New Road. Permanent resisters are organising to push supply companies to pull out of the process helping to build the deeply unpopular fracking site and schedules have already been dealyed by several months. In an announcement this week Reclaim the Power said:
This summer, as Cuadrilla gets nearer to trying to drill, Reclaim the Power is joining the frontline struggle in Lancashire to support and reinforce the amazing local resistance, and we invite you to join.
For the month of July, we’ll be providing training, resources, and support to take creative action against Cuadrilla and the fracking supply chain. We will help continue to halt their work in its tracks and fight for a clean, safe, affordable energy system for everyone across the UK.
Whether you’re part of an action group already, or you’re new to taking action and want to test things out, there’s roles for everyone, and support to take part. Whether you can come for two days or two weeks, whether you can chop veg, brew tea or take action – this resistance movement needs you, and we’ll be lending our support to local activity however we can. More details on the Rolling Resistance in July are here.
In the meantime, if you can get to Preston New Road sooner, then there’s logistical details here of the daily protests happening already.
An FAQ for anyone interested in joining the rolling resistance month is here.