To mark the beginning of this week's Camp for Climate Action at the planned site of the new Kingsnorth coal-fired power station, campaigners held a rally and march from Rochester High Street to Kingsnorth.
The rally included speeches from the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and our own Ashok Sinha (above), and was followed by a 7 mile march to the site of the climate camp at Kingsnorth. Ms Lucas said "The Government's addiction to fossil fuels is not only destroying the environment, but also people's lives now". Other speakers included a local Liberal Democrat Councillor and Phil Thornhill from the Campaign against Climate Change. Over 300 people attended the rally on Sunday morning, and then walked to the site of the climate camp, which will run throughout this week, culminating in a day of action on Saturday directly targeting the current Kingsnorth coal power station.
There was a strong police presence at the rally and police accompanied protesters on the march. Since Sunday, police have regularly clashed with protesters, confiscating property, using pepper spray and arresting 9 people.
Protesters at the camp say that rebuilding the coal power station is incompatible with the UK government's drive towards reduced carbon dioxide emissions and have warned police that they are prepared to break the law in the course of their action.
This month the consulting and energy firm Pöyry issued a report concluding the construction of new fossil fuel power stations was unnecessary to meet the UK's electricity demand. According to the report for WWF and Greenpeace, "there is little or no need for large-scale investment in conventional baseload technology in the period up to 2020".
Owners of the new power station, E.ON, commissioned a telephone survey of 502 people living near the site, which they claim shows support for the new power station. However there is a petition of 1200 signatures from local people against the power station, collected by Kingsnorth Climate Action Medway, as well as other public displays of opposition. WDM condemned the E.ON report as 'pure spin' whilst the RSPB issued a response to the poll, stating that "all new coal is dirty and no new survey will change that".
Photo courtesy of UNKIEPAUL