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What’s this?

This website is part of a growing movement willing to take “direct action” against coal, and the destructive climate change it causes. The Government should be prepared for a long summer of protest if they choose to follow this hypocritical energy strategy – while ministers talk about cutting emissions, they are failing to follow this with action and instead have decided to approve dirty power stations such as Kingsnorth in Kent.

We do not need and we cannot afford new coal mines and coal-fired power stations. Renewable technologies can power Britain cleanly and securely, drive the British economy to be a world leader in green technologies, and deliver a clean industrial revolution which can provide safety and jobs for South Wales and the rest of the UK.

Keep up to date with what’s going on through our blog, and browse the site to read more about coal and why people are motivated to protest, see the stories of those whose lives are disrupted, and explore the links between the local and the global.

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Coal

Coal is the most carbon-intensive of all fossil fuels. Being nearly pure carbon, it releases nearly pure carbon dioxide when burned. How we produce power has the biggest impact on the climate of any sector, and coal is the worst offender.

Coal truck, Northumberland

While the world around us is thrown into crisis by global warming, coal-fuelled power stations are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ever before. The Government has effectively subsidised coal, making the most polluting source of energy cheaper to burn than less polluting natural gas. The use of coal in power stations has risen by 10 per cent under New Labour, and CO2 emissions in the UK are higher than ever before – and still rising. By supporting new coal mines like Ffos-y-Fran the Government is sending a clear signal that they are not committed to addressing climate change substantially.

“The single greatest threat to the climate comes from burning coal. Coal-fired generation is historically responsible for most of the CO2 in the air today – responsible for about half of all carbon dioxide emissions globally”

James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, letter to Gordon Brown, 2007

That the UK is still seriously considering relying on coal demonstrates the Government’s lack of commitment to addressing climate change seriously. Coal-powered generation looks even less like a good idea when you consider that two thirds of the energy going into a coal-fired power station never even makes it to our homes. It’s lost up the cooling towers and along the transmission lines – as waste heat before we even turn the kettle on.

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Because coal is cheaper to burn than natural gas, energy companies are planning new coal power stations which could be pumping out carbon dioxide for the next fifty years, making it almost impossible for us to stop catastrophic climate change. One of the world’s most pre-eminent climate scientists, James Hansen from NASA, was so shocked by the UK’s plans for new coal that he wrote to the Prime Minister stating that he had “the future of the world in his hands.”

Ffos-y-Fran and mines like it in the UK will help supply a new generation of coal fired power plants. Kingsnorth in Kent is the first of these proposed new plants, and is planned to start production by 2012. It will be followed by at least seven others. None will be able to capture emissions from burning the coal – carbon capture and storage technology is still in its infancy and may not be ready for years, if at all.

This just goes to show how badly the government is lacking a coherent approach to tackling energy security and climate change. There is a solution – studies have shown that the UK could meet a much larger proportion of its energy needs from renewable, doing away with the need for new coal fired power stations, generating tens of thousands of jobs and growth for the UK economy, and allowing us to take a lead on the global climate stage.

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Why protest?

What it’s like to live next to the mine…

Coal is Clean

Straight from the states, a cheerful explanation of the ’science’ behind so-called ‘clean coal’ technology, from very good indeed new website coalisclean.com.

Activists have been busy in the United States, blocking, protesting and challenging the construction of new coal-fired power stations. They’ve been doing so well, in fact, that the coal industry there has gone all out to advertise their green credentials, by trying to hide behind the (slightly vague) screen of promises ‘clean coal’ or ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS) technology.

Unfortunately, CCS doesn’t work. In fact, CCS doesn’t even exist, except in very early prototypes. And nobody, not even the Government, think it’s going to be around any time soon (not before 2030, at least!) Yes kids, clean coal is a fairytale.

6 Reasons why direct activists aren’t just nutters

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Direct action – peaceful protest – non-violent civil disobedience. Whatever you call it, it’s standing up (or sitting down) for something you believe in. Maybe it’s a carnival at a coal conference, maybe it’s breaking some trespass laws, to protest the breaking of Governmental environment pledges.

Environmental direct action is going on all over the place in the UK at the moment, so here’s thecoalhole’s six reasons why direct action’s an option to consider, whoever you are.

1. “Nice people with PhD’s” – Teachers and doctors are activists too

Contrary to the popular myth that direct activists are all unemployed or students, most activists we meet are either people who are concerned about an issue or an injustice to others – like local groups who put pressure on shops to sell fair trade goods – or people who are directly affected by an unjust situation – like those whose homes are being destroyed to make way for an airport expansion.

In fact at last years Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow the Daily Mail reporter said “I went to the camp expecting to find drug-addled layabouts and instead found lots of nice people with PhD’s!”

(Having said that, it is OK to go on an action if you don’t have a PhD.)

2. “Great career development” – Direct activists have a variety of skills, and learn quickly

Successful direct action campaigns require a variety of skills like listening, organising, negotiation and co-operation, as well as technical IT knowledge, (setting up a website), presentation skills (for when you are giving interviews to the media), patience (when you D-lock yourself to a gate for several hours) or maybe legal knowledge if you are on the end of a phone in a legal support team. The good thing is that you don’t have to do all of it – you can pick the roles that suit your skills, or the ones you want to develop.

3. “Team-building” – Direct activists are very sociable

Imagine one of those stupid office team building exercises – paintballing with the accounts department, maybe. Sounds awful… Now imagine it without the paintballing, without all the horrible macho posturing, in a coal power station, and not surrounded by accountants. Sounds a lot better, right? (Although accountants also take part in direct action – see above).

Now imagine being on a digger in a proposed coal fired power station with five other people for two days… Planning an action will have drawn you together, and doing the action is a great way to cement strong friendships. It will be a much more pleasant experience if you are a people person with a sense of humour, and luckily, activists tend to be just that!

4. Think, then act – A rational mind is essential!

If you are taking part in direct action to highlight an issue you need to know why you are doing it. If you have thought about why you are doing it before hand you are more likely to be effective. There’s no point getting involved if you aren’t really sure if you should be there.

Getting involved in direct action on an issue like coal means you’ve got a firmly-held, carefully thought out argument that new coal power stations and opencast mines are going to be a disaster for local people and the planet, and you’ve carefully decided to act on your beliefs.

5. “So, why are you here?” – Activists are knowledgeable

Journalists will ask you why you are there. (Usually this is the first thing they’ll ask – as a question, it avoids the need for background research). You will need to be able to talk with authority about the environmental impact of coal fired power stations, airport expansions, carbon offsetting schemes, climate change and the like. Good direct activists do their homework, and usually end up embarrassing whichever industry flunky they’re arguing against on Newsnight.

6. Active citizenship – DA is good for democracy

When it’s important and urgent to address a big issue like new coal, there are many ways to do something about it. You can volunteer or work for an NGO that addresses the issues you are concerned about, you can write to your MP, you can increase your knowledge and talk to people about the issue. As part of all of this, a direct action campaign allows people to get much needed publicity for the issue they are concerned about and draw people’s attention to the issue. It enables people to take an active role in politics and the democratic process. And these days, when you might feel a little bit short-changed by the general blandness of a lot of politicians, that can’t be a bad thing.

Women’s rights to vote, the ending of the slave trade, the ending of apartheid, the civil rights movement in the US – all of these well known examples, and many more less well known ones, have shown that when done well, creatively and persistently, peaceful protest strengthens democracy and sorts things out for the better.

Coal Cleaners clean coal (for e.on)

More coal action in London…

Meet the ‘Coal Cleaners’ – It’s a bit like the Daz doorstep challenge, but without Shane Richie. What will clean coal best? Carbon trading, carbon capture and storage, or nuclear power? Will any of them actually work? (Here’s a clue – Not very well…)

Bonus points for the soundtrack.

Faced with the environmental challenges we see ahead, it’s never been more important to realise that DA’s not some weird hobby or sideshow – it’s democracy in action, for you and me.

Leave it in the Ground

derbyshire opencast site
Lovely. Let’s trash it.

Some kids from Derbyshire way write…

A new open cast coal mine site is about to get underway in beautiful Derbyshire – unless we stop it now.

Lodge House site which is east of the village of Smalley and spans either side of Bell Lane, is one of seven that UK Coal is to open cast.

The area is about to be devastated – despite objections from local councils, residents and local environmental groups the Secretary of State granted planning permission in 2007.

The 122 hectare site will have one million tonnes of coal ripped out over the 5 years. Residents fear there may be more to the plot, as they were excluded from parts of the planning meeting under grounds of commercial confidentiality.

Coal is not clean energy and with the new onslaught of proposed power stations, UK Coal are looking to cash in on climate devastation and destruction. The area is rich with wildlife and backs onto Shipley County Park. UK Coal has stated that the site will be returned to farm land, but they are able to expand beyond the 122 hectors without needing further permission

To combat open cast mining, a new action group “Leave it in the Ground” has formed with an invite to a Picnic in the Park on 26th May for a mass trespass to see it before the destruction starts, meet the locals and have fun. So come and Discover Derbyshire!

Meet at the Visitors Centre, Shipley County Park of Slack Lane Heanor DE75 7GX at 12 noon on the 26th May

For more info phone 07852 460871 or email derby@earthfirst.org.uk

A lovely suitcase full of concrete

“I’m just lying back, I’ve got my hand in a lovely suitcase full of concrete… above me I can see the sky getting lighter, apparently the mist is rolling in…”

The amazing thing about this video from the recent blockade of Aberthaw power station is how… calm everything seems. The protesters lie in the road watching the sunrise, the police come and have a chat, a man from npower turns up and nobody listens to him, the power plant – largest emitter of carbon dioxide in Wales – gradually appears out of the mist.

Everyone sounds like they’re having a nice time – probably the kind of chilled-out wellbeing that comes from taking a stand for something you believe in.

Bonus points for spotting the obvious pronunciation mistakes of Welsh names. But let ‘em off – it was pretty early.

Getting on top of the problem

protestor on eon roof

A successful action from our friends at respectable student environment types People & Planet…

Warwick Students march on EON HQ

People & Planet built a coal power station complete with 12ft
cooling towers at EON HQ, Westwood Business Park, Coventry to protest
against their plans to build a new coal-fired power stations at
Kingsnorth in Kent.

Kingsnorth in Kent, will ensure the UK’s international leadership on
climate change goes up in smoke as a company interested only in its
profits and intent on opening up the doors to run away climate change.

People & Planet is calling for a full Public Inquiry into the Kingsnorth
proposal in order that the negative impacts of such a move are fully
exposed. We are also calling for a moratorium on any new coal-fired
power stations until the technology to capture and store the carbon they
release is fully operational and fitted.

The EON claims that it will be possible to fit carbon capture technology
to Kingsnorth at a later date. There is currently not a single coal
power station anywhere in the world that uses this technology. By IPCC
estimates, carbon capture and storage (CCS) will only be realistically
deployed around the world in the second half of the century. This leaves
at least forty years of standard dirty coal emissions.

BT in ‘ethical’ coal hole shocker

Some interesting news about the tangle of money behind Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine in Merthyr has come our way via Friends of the Earth Wales, and was picked up today by the Guardian:

Digging an ethical hole

The giant Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine outside Merthyr Tydfil will contribute more to climate change emissions than any other mine in Britain over the next few years. But property development group Argent, which is one half of the joint venture, prefers to talk about how green its buildings are. “We are trying to deliver lower energy, greener buildings in the right locations,” it says. What Argent does not say, but which has been dug out by a rather shocked Friends of the Earth Swansea, is that Argent is wholly owned by BT’s pension fund, which was voted Britain’s top ethical pension fund last year.

‘Ethical’ doesn’t seem to square with Ffos-y-Fran – a 200 metre hole in the ground which will produce enough coal to release over 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, driving climate change which will impact overwhelmingly on the poorest people in the World.

The BT Pension Scheme seems very proud of it’s ethical reputation, stating on their website:

Social, ethical, environmental and governance issues are key areas of corporate and policy engagement for BTPS…

Well, er, great!

If you think BTPS being a top-rated ethical pension fund might not ‘fit’ with BTPS wholly owning Argent Plc, one half of Miller-Argent, South Wales opencast coal producers, perhaps it would be worth emailing c.symonds@hermes.co.uk – the BT Pensions Secretariat, to get their take on it.

And if you get a reply, why not forward it to us? info@thecoalhole.org

The Five Best Arguments for Coal (And why they’re still really, really bad.)

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The Industrial Revolution was an exciting time when we in the UK were still dying from cholera and typhoid, not letting women vote, and really getting into burning coal for power.

You might think that in these more enlightened times, there wouldn’t be much argument that, just like typhoid, burning coal is a pretty bad idea. But actually, there are plenty of people out there who still insist that it’s absolutely the way forward. Here’s thecoalhole’s quick rundown of the 5 ‘best’ arguments for coal.

5. The coal industry provides employment

At the moment, the coal industry in the UK employs 5,600 people, about 1,600 in opencast mines like Ffos-y-Fran.

But hang on – according the Government Britain’s going to become a world leader in clean technologies, like wind power and wave power – let’s face it, our windy, wet island has a lot of potential. Hey, perhaps being a world leader in clean technologies would mean you’d be able to employ some people in the renewable sector? Germany’s an interesting example – over the past 6 years, they’ve created 250,000 jobs in the environmental engineering sector – so-called ‘green collar’ jobs. Surely we could be doing the same? Even the back of the fag packet calculation I’d be able to do if I smoked suggests we’d be up, er, 244,400 jobs.

4. Oil is going to run out – but we’ve got lots of coal!

Conventional wisdom goes that while we’ve probably got limited amounts of oil left (oil companies themselves guess between 10 and 30 years until we reach maximum global production, and it’s all downhill from there) – there’s enough coal kicking around to comfortably power us well into the dim and distant future. Great!

Great, except, if we burn even a small percentage of that coal, we will quickly push the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere up to levels best described as ‘very dangerous’, trigger climate feedbacks like ice sheets melting which will further accelerate the cooking of the planet, raise the average temperature of the planet by 4, 5 or 6 degrees, kill, displace or drown a good chunk of the World’s population, and there won’t be a future, or at least not one you’d much want to be around in. Next!

3. If we don’t burn coal, there’s going to be an energy gap!

If we can’t provide all the electricity that we need and demand is bigger than supply, we fall into the energy gap. The energy gap – sounds pretty bad, right? If we don’t build new coal and nuclear power stations, our hospitals will have no power, the country will be plunged into darkness, and small children will start crying.

Except, when you look at the government’s own statistics and predictions, you see the following:

  • Amount electricity generating capacity reduces by 2027 from closing old coal and nuclear power stations: 35%
  • Amount of energy Gordon Brown has said we will generate from renewable sources by 2020: 40%

So that means that according to the government, we’re 5% up, 7 years before there’s a problem! If they actually deliver on their own policies, there is no energy gap. Hmmm.

2. If we don’t use coal, China will…

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. If we don’t dig it up in Wales, someone will dig it up in China, and then they’ll ship it here, and that’ll be even worse for the environment!

It’s a funny argument. It’s kind of like saying: Let’s employ children in factories in Britain – because, let’s face it, if we don’t, they will in Malaysia, and then we’ll still have to ship those trainers all the way to the UK, and think of the carbon emissions!

The problem is this. We can’t afford to keep burning coal as a planet – that means us, the Estonians, the Cubans, the Chinese. Climate change is a global problem, and burning the most polluting fossil fuel anywhere will make it worse.

Gordon Brown is fond of talking about the UK becoming a “world leader” on climate issues. The way to become a world leader is to act like one – phasing out fossil fuels, plowing investment into renewable technologies like wind and wave power (creating a load of jobs and energy security in the process), and generally getting our act together. Otherwise, why should the likes of China listen to us? In fact, if we weren’t so obsessed about what an awful environmental record China has, we might have noticed that in the past year, China installed more renewable energy capacity than the UK has ever installed!

1. Carbon capture and storage will save us.

Ah, Carbon Capture and Storage. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Well, not quite. In fact, Carbon Capture and Storage didn’t even make it to the wedding, she’s about eighty thousand miles away, it’s going to take her about twenty years to get here if she ever does, and if she ever does, she’ll forget her lines, trip over her dress, eat all the cake, throw up on the dancefloor and generally be completely useless. Worst of all, she’s got no interest in men whatsoever, because she’s been chatted up by the likes of Gordon Brown and John Hutton, and let’s face it, a girl can do better.

So, is that the best the coal cheerleaders can do?

Teenagers ‘well bovvered’ about new coal

The government may have a new hurdle in it’s plans for new coal: 1 million grumpy teenagers. A report by Future Foundation has found that a third of 16-19 year olds support ‘direct action’ against polluting power stations and nearly one in ten would take part in ‘Guerrilla activities’. That makes roughly 1 million teens.

A teacher who took part in this weeks protests a Ffos Y Fran open cast coal mine said: “I work with teenagers every day. I certainly wouldn’t want to deal with 1 million hormonal teens on a protest. I doubt the government has thought about this”.

The report paid for by the National Lottery claims “Some of them (16 to 19 years olds) would even go as far as acting against those who they feel are damaging the environment“. 33% would support “taking direct action against polluters” and 9% would support “taking part in guerrilla activities carried out by environmental protest groups”.

As the government’s plans for new coal unfold Britain’s vanguard of radical young people have an important role to play.

npower offices get a visit from protestors

The power company responsible for Aberthaw also felt the heat from some suprisingly autonomous protesters today.

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And why not? The problem isn’t really the people on the ground working at Aberthaw and Ffos-y-Fran – they’d probably rather be doing something else. The problem is with big companies that are making a mint out of trashing the planet. (Not sure what the green goblin’s about though?) Follow the money, that’s what we say.

PROTESTERS BLOCKADE COAL POWER STATION

Second protest in three days kicks off summer of discontent against coal

Thursday 3rd April, 2008: At 7am this morning, protesters chained themselves together and blockaded both roads into Aberthaw power station – the biggest polluter in Wales.

It is the second protest against coal in three days. These protests are the first of many planned this summer against coal, which is the most polluting fossil fuel. Protests coincide with the Government plans for a new generation of coal mines and power stations.

On Tuesday 1st April, a separate group of protesters shut Ffos-y-Fran opencast coal mine near Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, by chaining themselves to machinery, blocking the main entrance and occupying buildings.

Organisers of the Camp for Climate Action are also planning to focus on coal by holding their week-long protest in August on the site of the proposed Kingsnorth power station in Kent.

“We are at Aberthaw to expose the Government’s hypocrisy on climate change,” one protester said. “Ministers talk about reducing emissions by 60 or 80%, but they continue to support destructive methods of power generation like coal. Aberthaw is the biggest polluter in Wales – power stations like this should be phased out and replaced with renewable energy. Here in South Wales, we have an incredible potential for wind and tidal technologies.

“We need to act immediately – there is very little time left to avoid the point where climate change runs out of control.”

Energy Minister John Hutton is expected to give the green light to Kingsnorth soon. Yesterday, a group of scientists from the Royal Society wrote to Hutton demanding that he reject the new plant unless the carbon could be captured.

Another protester said: “Kingsnorth would negate any attempt to meet our carbon emissions targets. We need to get our own house in order before we tell other countries how to avoid destructive climate change.”

The black heart of Wales’ “green” giant

The rhetoric sounds good – the reality is set to be a total disaster. In theory, the government has promised that any new coal-fired power stations in the UK will be obliged to use carbon capture and storage, and it wants to use Aberthaw station in south Wales as a testing ground the scheme. But if its actions over the proposed Kingsnorth station in Kent are anything to go by, not only does it have no intention of complying with its own policy, it is fully aware that the possibility of operational carbon capture and storage is decades away at best – time the climate science is telling us we don’t have. If our burning of coal expands in this period rather than being cut back, this will push us straight into the danger zone.Aberthaw power station is the biggest polluter in Wales, scoring top of the league not only for emissions of carbon dioxide, but also for nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, both harmful greenhouse gases. In October the plant announced its plans to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology ahead of a competition for government funding. So has this dirtiest of industries really gone green?

Don’t get your hopes up. According to Jonathan Porritt, chair of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, the amount of money government and business are investing in CCS development is “pathetic”. As recently-released internal documents from the planning process for Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent reveal, the government has caved to pressure to exclude even the suggestion of CCS from its plans. And even the more optimistic predictions cannot foresee the technology being available to apply for a long, long while. Shell, an enthusiast about the technology, doesn’t foresee CCS being widely available for implementation until 2050 at the earliest. By this date, the chance for humanity to avert lethal, runaway climate change will be long gone. But this prediction may be overly optimistic – as UK Chancellor Alistair Darling has put it, commercially viable carbon capture and storage technology “might never become available”. If coal-fired stations are allowed to continue polluting instead of being phased out, in other words, it is game over for UK climate policy.

As James Hansen, the NASA scientist and US’s leading climate change researcher has put it, burning coal has the capacity to take us to a drastically different planet. An alternative is readily available – renewable energy has been shown to be the most popular option with the British public, and Britain itself has been shown to be capable of switching to renewable energy production quickly, without compromising the wellbeing of the public. What is certain is that fossil fuels are not going to last forever – we need to wean ourselves off them sooner or later. Whether we do so as soon as possible, or leaving a legacy of climate chaos for this and future generations, is our choice. Faced with these options, in the middle of this emergency, what are we waiting for?

And that’s a wrap…

It’s always tough saying goodbye, but after a day on sitting on diggers, locking to coal mine gates and climbing on roofs at the Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, we’ve called it a day.

The 36 metre long banner reading “Coal: the black hole in UK climate policy” fluttered in the strong winds on the Ffos-y-Fran site. Climbers had struggled throughout the afternoon to unfurl the banner, and following their marathon effort, they were pretty pleased to be down off the roof and free to go
“It was amazing seeing the banner finally unfolding down the side of the coal washery,” one of my friends said (to the media). “Today we’ve made a clear statement to the Government – if they don’t take their own climate policies seriously, draw a line under coal and move on, not only will they miss their own emissions targets, they will face continued protest and criticism.”

As our team leave the mine towards the pub after a hard day’s work, others around the world are picking up their banners and getting ready to expose the ‘fossil fools’ making a mockery of climate change policy. Apparently in the US there are at least 100 protests planned for later today.

Today we have said quite clearly everything we wanted to – that new coal is madness, given what climate scientists are telling us, that local democracy should be respected, not steamrollered, that ‘clean coal’ in the future is a convenient myth for those who want dirty coal now. These are important messages – and we’re going to keep on saying them.

UPDATE: Protesters leave coal mine after successful demonstration

Successful protest exposes ‘black hole’ in climate change policy

Tuesday, 1st April, 2008: At the finale of today’s occupation of Ffos-y-Fran opencast coal mine, Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, a group of protesters unfurled a 36 metre banner across the main building stating “Coal: the black hole in UK climate policy.” Thirty-six metres is the distance between the mine and local residents’ homes.

Protesters occupied the mine since 6am this morning, barricading the main entrance to the site, climbing on the roof of the coal washery and chaining themselves to machinery. The action halted work at the mine, one of the biggest in the country, before protesters left this afternoon.

Protester Esther Tew, who sat on top of an eight metre high Komatsu digger for most of the day, said: “We just want the Government to take its own climate policies seriously. By supporting opencast mining at Ffos-y-Fran and encouraging the building of new coal power stations, Gordon Brown is undermining any chance the UK has of making the 60% cuts in emissions the Government is currently committing to, let alone the 80% target the climate change committee is likely to recommend at the end of the year.”

The protest at the Ffos-y-Fran site highlights the hypocrisy of the UK Government, which claims to be taking climate change seriously while approving new coal mines and coal-fired power stations.

Coal has the biggest climate impact of any fuel – despite opposition from the world’s leading scientists, the Government is supporting an outdated and dangerous technology that has no future.

Local residents have opposed the scheme for many years, and invited protesters to Merthyr last December to support their campaign. In England and Scotland, the scheme would have been rejected due to legislation requiring a 500 metre buffer zone between opencast mines and residential areas.

As the team leave the mine for the pub after a hard day’s work, others around the world are picking up their banners and getting ready to expose the ‘fossil fools’ making a mockery of climate change policy. In the US there are at least 100 ‘Fossil Fools’ protests planned later today.

On the roof with the climbers

“It’s very windy up here…” the voice tails off on the phone as the gusts pick up.

The climbing team are unfurling their 36 metre long banner from the roof of the coal washery – reading “Coal: the black hole in UK climate policy.” Don’t try this at home, should you happen to live in a coal washery – the team is made up of skilled roped access professionals. Being up so high gives them an amazing view of the devestation that’s caused as the coal is ripped out of the ground. One of the team texted from the roof: “This is not land reclamation, this is take what you want and get out, leaving a black hole in the landscape.”

Live from the front gate: Coal powered birthday

Coal protestor Kate wrote this dispatch from the front line, chained to the front gate of the mine site:
Today is April fool’s day, and this year it is also Fossil Fools Day. It is also my 30th birthday. But taking part in this peaceful protest at Ffos-y-Fran opencast coal mine is not quite how I planned on celebrating it.

Thirty years ago, when coal mining in the UK was at its peak, we didn’t know what we know now – how serious the pollution from coal would turn out to be. Now, in 2008, we know coal is the fuel which more than any other adds tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year. Our government is saying they want to tackle climate change and the solutions are available, through energy efficiency and renewable technologies. I don’t want the Government to take me back into a coal age.

We’ll have to make a stand, for the next thirty years, against opencast coal mining. Even if it means sacrificing one birthday.

Kate