Anger at Police Raid on Green Camp Ahead of Coal Protest
Kingsnorth, England - Environmental campaigners and politicians criticised the police last night after around 200 officers raided a climate camp, seizing hundreds of items that they claimed could be used to break the law.
Activists at the camp, which starts today with a series of workshops on sustainable energy and social justice, said the raid aimed to disrupt legitimate protest.
Green MEP Carolyn Lucas, who is attending the week-long event, said police had confiscated hundreds of items including disabled access ramps, board games and fire safety equipment.
"The police seem to be trying to stop Kingsnorth climate camp going ahead and if this is the intention it is illegal and I will be drawing it to the attention of the European Commission as well as the UK authorities," she said.
Kent's assistant chief constable, Gary Beautridge, said his officers had found bolt cutters, superglue and climbing ropes in the raid at the end of last week.
"We wanted to police lawful protest, recognising that this is the right of people in a free country," said Beautridge. "However, equipment we seized from the site suggests that some protesters were clearly intent on unlawful action."
The event is being held at the proposed site of the UK's first new coal-fired power station in 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent. There will be around 200 workshops as well as a rolling programme of direct action. Last year's event at Heathrow was accompanied by other protests where activists chained themselves to the Department for Transport in London and hijacked a wing of a jumbo jet at a factory in north Wales.
Lucas said: "A new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth will most likely prevent the UK from meeting its own C02 targets. Perhaps the police ought to be more worried about this corporate environmental destruction instead of people in a field."
The protests started last Sunday when environmentalists gathered at Heathrow airport before travelling across London in a "green caravan", stopping off each night to highlight their objections to the proposed power station. The caravan was due to arrive at Kingsnorth last night along with hundreds of other protesters.
Five campaigners are expected to risk jail later today when they breach their bail conditions by attending the camp. The activists, who are planning to hand themselves over to the police, had been arrested at an earlier demonstration at the Drax power station.
The campaigners said they are willing to go to jail to highlight the threat posed by climate change.
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2008