Coal Baron's Hidden 'Conscience' Shuts Down UK's Largest Open-Cast Mine

Workers and trucks were turned away after activists blocked the main entrance to the open-cast mine by lying in front of the gate, handcuffed together inside drainage pipes. (Photo: Matt Ridley's Conscience)

Coal Baron's Hidden 'Conscience' Shuts Down UK's Largest Open-Cast Mine

Shotton mine located on land owned by British aristocrat and known climate-change denier

Activists identifying themselves as the "conscience" of one of the United Kingdom's most prominent climate change skeptics on Monday shut down operations at an open-cast coal mine--the country's largest--which happens to be situated on land owned by the notorious climate-denier and aristocrat, Conservative Viscount Matt Ridley.

Beginning at dawn, "four protesters climbed down into the depths of the Shotton mine, which is run by Banks Mining, fastening themselves to a 500-tonne coal excavator and brandishing a banner bearing the slogan 'End Coal,' while another group of around eight blocked the main entrance to the site by lying in front of the gate, handcuffed together inside drainage pipes," the Guardian reports. The Shotton coal mine is located outside of Newcastle in Britain's northeast.

The group, which donned masks of Matt Ridley's face, published this letter ahead of the action:

Dear Matt, It's time for you to finally come clean about your fossil-fuelled climate denial and your coal mining millions. Coal is a red line for the planet, and climate scepticism cannot be your business model any longer. That's why, as your Conscience, we've taken matters into our own hands and shut down your mine. We hope you'll understand, Sincerely, Your Conscience.

Workers were reportedly sent home and trucks that turned up at the gates were sent away. At least five of the protesters were arrested.

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The campaigners are demanding an end to all open-cast mining in Britain and for coal-fuelled power stations to be closed by 2023 to prevent catastrophic climate change.

"Gone are the days when mining benefitted millions," said Ellen Gibson, one of the activists locked-on at the front gate, "now open-cast mining lines the pockets of millionaires like climate skeptic Lord Ridley, whilst destroying the landscape and cooking the planet." An estimated 10 percent of native coal burned in Britain comes from Ridley's ancestral estate. He is also a member of the influential Science and Technology Committee in the House of Lords and regular columnist in The Times newspaper.

"We need to keep 80% of all known fossil fuels in the ground if we're to prevent catastrophic climate change, and coal is the dirtiest fuel of all," Gibson added. The protesters are hoping to spark a wave of similar civil disobedience actions ahead of the upcoming United Nations climate talks, which will begin at the end of next month, and will be partaking in the Climate Games direct actions, which will be held in Paris during the international summit.

Activists donned masks of the aristocrat, land-owner, and climate-skeptic Matt Ridley

Updates on the Shotton mine shutdown can be found online under the hashtag #endcoal.

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