Pipes, ash and protests

IssueFebruary 2007
News by Brian Bunyan

Waste disposal and pipeline developments seem to be the bane of environmentalists the world over. Permanent damage and destruction of the land follow wherever dumps and terminals are sited.

So far, 2007 has seen the development of two relatively new campaigns: to save Radley Lakes in Oxfordshire from toxic ash, and the Brecon Beacons in south Wales from a high-pressure pipeline.

Save Radley Lakes Two lakes, Thrupp and Bullfield, in Radley near Abingdon in south Oxfordshire are under threat from RWE NPower, who need to dispose of thousands of tonnes of waste fuel ash from the nearby Didcot coal-fired power station.

In July 2005, the company applied to Oxfordshire County Council to transform the two lakes into landfills. Early this year, an application by locals to transform the lakes and surrounding land into a “Town Green” will be heard, which, if successful, would protect the area from development. However, Oxfordshire have since granted permission for RWE NPower to proceed with their ashfill plan. Campaigners are understood to have placed a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman and a court battle looks likely to follow.

In December a group of activists occupied a house on the site owned by NPower. They have put out an appeal for support (see details below).

Stop Milford pipeline In Wales, a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline, 115 miles long, is being built through the countryside; part of its route is through the Brecon Beacons, which is one of the most popular areas in Wales. The Welsh pipeline represents just one stage in a multinational project to bring LNG to Britain from the Middle East. Two new terminals are being constructed at Milford Haven to receive the LNG, reportedly they will be the biggest LNG terminus in the world.

Campaigners from Safe Haven Network, Rising Tide, and others, have been involved in blockades, camps and occupations at different points along the route. On 16 January, protesters occupied a construction site in Alltwen, Pontardawe, Glamorgan, in the early hours, and locked-on to cranes. Work had to be stopped for more than five hours. Campaigners say it was the eighth time that construction on the project has been brought to a halt.