Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more

"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

  • facebook
  • rss
  • twitter

Climate campaigners shut down opencast coalmine single-handed!

Okay, so there were two of them rather than one, but with just a little cargo netting and rope borrowed from friends, campaigners closed Ffos-y-Frân, Wales’ largest opencast coal mine on 23 September.

“Coal is the biggest cause of climate change, which according to the UN is already killing four hundred thousand people a year,” said David Jones, when he came down from his day-long vigil suspended above the mine’s only access road.

“And the real crime is that all this is unnecessary, if we consume less energy and invest in renewables we can leave coal in the ground where it belongs.” The action was inspired by Climate Camp Cymru, Wales’ first camp for climate action, held adjacent to Ffos-y-Frân in August. Just seven people created the action: making banners, putting up the netting, and offering support from the ground.

Ceris, one of two direct action first-timers, explained how it had inspired her: “I’ve been on demos before, but never done anything like this and it was so easy and fun!” “If all those people marching in London took direct action we could stop the hypocrisy and avoid runaway climate change!”

Hypocrisy in this case includes government policy favouring coal instead of sustainable solutions and corporate hypocrisy with BT’s pension fund, for example, one of the major investors in Miller Argent, who run the Ffos-y-Frân site. “BT just won a greenest company award”, laughed Ceris, “most of their investments are ethical, so if enough people pressure them I’m sure they’ll pull their support for Ffos-y-Frân!”

With a call out for others to follow, there has been at least one action on BT already. Costing Miller Argent around £100,000, the action at Ffos-y-Frân site is proof that a few committed people can make a difference.

“The site is very easy to stop”, David Jones concluded, “and there are many ways to do it. I hope lots of people go on to stop work at Ffos-y-Frân and throughout Wales, where dozens of opencasts are planned.”

Following the action, campaigners have been contacted by local groups seeking help to stop proposed opencast mines, such as that at Pontyberam. The local council reputedly owns 30% of the proposed Pontyberam site and can stop it by simply refusing to sell. A touch of direct action might just persuade them of the strength of public opinion.

Climate Camp Cymru week of action 1-7 December: www.climatecampcymru.org/Residents Against Ffos-y-Frân www.stopffosyfran.co.uk/