In mid-March, activists at the Happendon Wood Action Camp disrupted the South Lanarkshire council planning committee meeting that gave approval to Scottish Coal’s plans to develop Happendon Wood for opencast coal mining.
On 8 March, as the planning committee convened to rubber-stamp the decision, activists set off two stink bombs to show just how much the council stinks. Outside, activists briefly occupied part of the council HQ’s roof, and unfurled a banner reading “South Lanarkshire COALcil – Pushing through Dirty Development”.
The next day, 9 March, activists targeted Scottish Coal, the UK’s largest mining company, currently working three opencast sites in the Douglas Valley, which has applications for three more. A group from the camp entered Mainshill opencast site. As two people scaled a huge 260-tonne “prime mover” excavator at the bottom of the pit, other activists there to support them were brutally attacked by Scottish Coal employees and Trustcare Security.
Fiona Reed, who was at Mainshill, said: “We were under attack from the minute we entered the site. At no point were we confrontational or threatening, we just wanted to do the action safely so that no one got hurt.
“First of all huge dump trucks were deliberately driven at us and tried to box us in, then the excavator driver swung the machine’s bucket at us, blatantly disregarding all health and safety rules. We were then pounced on by workers and site security who punched us in the head repeatedly, threw us to the ground and kicked us.”
The excavator remained occupied for over four hours before a specialist police team removed the people occupying it, and arrested four people, two of whom were only supporting the action. All have been charged with aggravated trespass.