August 14th 2008
Two tunnelling protestors at the Shipley opencast coal site in Derbyshire (Location – Prospect Farm, Bell Lane, Shipley, north of Derby) have been brought to the surface after spending over a week in a tiny hole underground.
The eviction of the protest camp at Prospect Farm began last Thursday, with UK Coal bringing in dozens of police and bailiffs. They originally expected the eviction to last no more than a few days, but hadn’t reckoned with the hardy tunnellers who just kept digging to evade the specialist eviction team. The protesters had been preparing defences including the tunnels, a scaffold tower, lock-ons and treehouses since moving into Prospect Farm in June. The tunnellers’ removal means at least five people have been arrested at the site.
The tunnellers were part of a protest camp opposing UK Coal’s plans to extract 1 million tonnes of coal from the site over five years, which would produce over 3.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide if burnt, a massive contribution to climate change.
The planned opencast mine has been hugely unpopular with local residents, many of whom supported the protesters. Following a long local campaign against the opencast site, permission was granted by central government after overruling the local council, even though the site lies within an area where there is a presumption against opencasting. Direct action at the protest camp became the last line of defence after the failure of political processes.
One of the tunnellers, identified only as ‘Moley’, said, ‘We found ourselves in a hole, but we kept digging. It was pretty hard spending a week underground, but worth it to slow down UK Coal’s destruction of the environment.’
Andy Green from the protest camp said, ‘The greatest single threat to the climate comes from burning coal. Coal is historically responsible for most of the CO2 in the air today – about half of all carbon dioxide emissions globally.’
The Shipley site represents part of the surge in coal use which is set to destroy the government’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and threatens to push CO2 levels past the point of no return as well as devastating large areas of countryside.
Media contact: Andy Green 07852 460871