This past friday at the entrance to the proposed Banks Group mine outside of Dipton and Leadgate on the outskirts of Newcastle in England a new camp and occupation was put in place. In half a meter of snow and surrounded by uprooted hawthorne trees cut to make access to the mine, now serving as good source of fuel to the cold activist, a section 6 was placed on all the structures and entrances. Section 6 states that this location is occupied as living premises and court proceeding starting the eviction process have to take place before baileefs or the police show up to evict. As this was taking place 86 thousand signatures petition was turned in by a coalition of anti-coal mining activists to stop another permiti from being issued in London for a new coal mine in Bradley County, Durham. New opencast mines are being approved in England as publicity is generated to illustrate the country as one that is moving away from coal with its toxicity and effects on the climate.
The camp was formed after a week of Activist Skillsharing in Dipton and after several meeting as well as singing and dancing sessions with members of local community who have been resisting for more then 15 years plans to open up new open cast lignite mine. Mining has decimated the local communities for over century now with the 80’s miners strikes and a year of local families living on very little food during the strike still being a vibrant memory. So is the labor and union resistance with many anti coal mining company songs being sung there to this day. Common stories from those with older relatives who worked in the mines before they closed is that they would repeat the motto: “I work in the mine so none of you have to.” and the local churches all have mining memorial where with a book of miner deaths that is opened on each day and week anniversary on which the miners died in the mines, and what is surprising, and perhaps it should not be, is that those books are filled for each day of the year and the pages turned daily.
That is perhaps why there has been such mobilized local support bringing all the camping supplies, anything that is needed, hosting activists and helping with work in camp, with many cars constantly honking their horns in support as they pass the “No New Coal” banners hanging outside the site. There is at least 20cm to half a meter of snow everywhere. Which is also a reason why there is so many people in camp as originally only a symbolic vigil with a tent or two was to be set up. However when that time came all takink part in Skillshares were snowed in by the “Beast from the East”(which should more appropriately be called “Climate Refugee from the Arctic North” as arctic ice is now 10 degrees above previously recorded levels and breaking up in winter) not able to leave with no buses or trains running.
Several Local Groups, English Coal Action Network and activist from Hambach Forest have been instrumental in getting the project going and forming a continuity between local labor traditions, and quality of life issues, global solidarity with other anti-extractionists struggles and climate justice movement in general.
All are invited to come and stay and protect the beautiful Pont Valley. There is local bus connections to Dipton from Durham and New Castle and the camp is located on the outside of Leadgate heading in the direction of Dipton.
See You There. For the Wild! For the Earth!