Climate Camp capers

IssueSeptember 2008
Feature by Milan Rai , Emily Johns

The third and biggest British Camp for Climate Action fed, watered and educated perhaps 3,000 people from 3-11 August, sparked actions around the country, triggered 100 arrests and two prison sentences and culminated in a massive day of action against the proposed new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Essex.

Climate Camp highlighted the importance of the Kingsnorth decision as a key indicator of whether or not Britain is serious about avoiding catastrophic climate change (see p9).

Nonviolence in action
Despite repeated provocation – local MP Bob Marshall-Andrews said: “I find the use of police in riot gear incomprehensible” – campers refused to respond violently to violent police incursions. Despite police raids confiscating building materials, kitchen knives and the War on Terror board game (“includes balaclava”), the Camp programme of workshops and self-organising neighbourhood meetings continued throughout the week, with a helicopter for background music.
Campers with their hands in the air forced police off the site, and held them at bay nonviolently. (See:

Day of action
On 9 August, climate protestors set off by sea and by land (but not, sadly, by air). After safety training, and with Camp life jackets, over 20 craft of the Great Rebel Raft Regatta launched into the Medway, heading for the existing Kingsnorth power station, which is also coal-fired.
One inflatable got to the coal-loading jetty, and four protestors occupied the ledge above a water inlet tunnel (see debate below).
While the police claimed to have “rescued” other vessels, many rafters said that they had not been in danger – they were simply caught by the police.
Over 100 members of the “Green” group got to the fence, dismantled a barrier to create a ladder, and climbed over – right in front of the police. (Local news clip:
The second, electrified, fence had been off, and four protestors hurled themselves over - to be greeted by riot police.
The light-hearted 1000-strong “Orange” picnic at the main gate was terminated by what sounded like a reading of the Riot Act.

Prison time
Two of the 100 arrests resulted in immediate imprisonment. Paul Morozzo (interviewed on p8) was imprisoned for a week for breaking bail conditions imposed after the Drax coal train action (see PN 2499).
And Permanent Revolution activist James Thorne was imprisoned on 7 August for five days after refusing to accept bail conditions banning him from the Camp.
He is contesting the charge of assaulting a police officer.

The police note on the four rafters who got to a water inlet pipe said: “they did an act, namely disrupting the running of the power station by causing the water inlet cooling system to be shut down.”
An E.ON source told local newspaper the Medway Messenger that one pump had indeed been shut down, but there were another three to choose from.
If the government approves the building of a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth – without “carbon capture and storage” in place – Climate Campers are pledging to be back to launch a permanent blockade of the site.