The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
April 17, 2009

More Than 100 Green Protesters Pre-emptively Arrested by U.K. Police

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Filed under : General
coal_protest

A protest in Washington against coal-fired power plants.

Out of fear of a major disruption to their power supply, British police utilized the tactic of pre-emptive arrests on the green protesters.

In an unprecedented large-scale pre-emptive raid, police in the U.K. swooped in and arrested 114 environmental protesters who were suspected of plotting to sabotage one of Britain’s largest power plants.

The protesters were camped out at an independent school in Nottingham, close to the coal-fired power station which was believe to be the target, before police swooped in for the midnight arrest raid.

The Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, allegedly Britain’s second-largest producer of carbon-dioxide emissions, was last targeted by protesters in April 2007, when eleven people from the Eastside Climate Action group were arrested after chaining themselves to buildings and equipment on the site.

The Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, target of the alleged plot.

The Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, target of the alleged plot.

“In view of specialist equipment recovered by police, those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site,” said Police Superintendent Mike Manley. “This was a significant operation, with large-scale arrests. There were no injuries during the arrests, and the police investigation is ongoing.”

Had the sabotage been successful, tens of thousands of homes would have been left without power.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attempted action, but police are questioning those placed under arrest and are conducting an extensive investigation in an effort to glean some information into the alleged plot.

E.On, the operator of the coal-fired plant, issued a statement saying: “We can confirm that Ratcliffe power station was the planned target of an organised protest during the early hours of this morning.

“While we understand that everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things so we will be assisting the police with their investigations into what could have been a very dangerous and irresponsible attempt to disrupt an operational power plant.”

Witnesses described a scene where more than 20 police vans quickly descended on the meeting point and carried out mass arrests.

Protesters have previously chained themselves to conveyors, scaled the cooling tower at another E.On owned power plant in Kingsnorth, blockaded E.On offices, protested at events sponsored by the German-owned company, stopped a coal train and invaded or blockaded several airports around the country.

In the aftermath of the 2007 attempt to shut down the coal plant, the Eastside Climate Action said the break-in reflected “the threat climate change poses to the human population”.

A spokesman said: “We argue that the threat to human life is so serious that it is a proportionate and reasonable response to take direct action.”

A legal bid carried out by environmentalists, which would have paved the way for more direct action without fear of prosecution, ultimately failed.

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