RECLAIM THE POWER CAMP – 2016

RECLAIM THE POWER – 2016

The truth about the Reclaim The Power Camp 2016 – from The Sheep’s Mouth

baarbaarathesheep.wordpress.com/reclaim-the-power-camp- 2016/

Reclaim The Power.org.uk/endcoalnow/

Coalaction.org.uk/

Facebook.com/United-Valleys-Action-Group

FOE.co.uk – Friends of The Earth

Socialist Party Wales.org.uk

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Photographs by Ian Tog Jenkins and Chris Austin

Saturday 30th April, my partner, Ian, and I, both UVAG members, waited for the announcement of the camp’s location. As soon as it appeared on Facebook, we got ready to go.

The camp was about half-way set up. They had arrived that frosty, freezing morning at 5am and got stuck in. Organisation. I will repeat this word often, as I was overwhelmed by how brilliant their operation was. We were greeted on the gate by Janie Mac, a legal observer for the Green and Black Cross (GBC).

https://greenandblackcross.org/

Links to Janie’s Youtube videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX8-uXp1u9Q – Miller Argent Workers join Reclaim The Power.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_pf4IK2ssc – Miller Argent Stole this Land

We explained that we were UVAG members and had a great chat with her, thanking her for the involvement and support of everyone that was now involved in our campaign. Not just our campaign, as we know, this was more about saving the planet as a whole. This camp was the first of many planned over the next few weeks.

Walking around we were impressed with the scale of the main camp. It included three types of eco loos. Poos, sit down pees and stand up pees, you had to be impressed. And, I’d like to add, these stayed clean and useable for the whole five days. There were also water containers strung up for washing and cleaning teeth.

There was a big tent for cooking, a smaller tent for teas and coffees; a media tent, numerous workshop tents, a welcome tent and of course the gate tent, which was in operation twenty four seven. The main meeting tent was massive, with bales of hay and benches for sitting. There was also a bar in the corner and P.A. equipment and projector facilities. The camp was powered by a hand made wind turbine and a nearby van offered free mobile phone charging.

We returned for the meeting at around 7pm. The tent was full of enthusiastic listeners and speakers. People from worldwide talked about campaigns in their areas. These included Netherlands, France, Germany, and Colombia. Colombia’s story is one of the most harrowing I have ever heard, as activists and campaigners are being murdered. This was dramatised beautifully by a young, passionate woman. Her name unfortunately eludes me, but if you were there you will know who I mean.

Later we were invited to attend a speed- dating session, lol, to determine our capabilities in order to put us into mission groups. This would be held the next day after Solidarity Sunday in Fochriw Community Centre.

Solidarity Sunday 1st May – Fochriw 2pm  

A coach from the camp was organised by UVAG for those wanting to attend Solidarity Sunday. We arrived at 1.30pm and the place was packed. I spent most of the day making teas and coffees and serving cakes and other snacks but managed to hear a few of the inspirational speeches that were made.

Money was raised for UVAG’s forthcoming legal bill by selling T.Shirts, Badges, Books and donations for the refreshments. Also there were sponsorship forms for our litter pick at the end of May.

Strangely the police had been mis-informed, despite the event being publicised everywhere for the past few weeks, and they spent the day on the Bogey Road, in vans, cars etc. looking for trespassers.

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Photos by A. Scaife

Monday 2nd May

Throughout the day workshops were held. Fochriw school was to benefit from a wind turbine made on site. There were also children’s activities, such as felt flower making, bike repairing, painting and drawing and other creative workshops. Failing that they played ball. It was great to see the youngsters having fun without holding an Ipod or other such technical device.

Organisation. Meetings were held and training sessions were given on dealing with any possible police interaction. The protest was intended to be peaceful, but as everyone knows these events are sometimes subject to trouble. Every eventuality was covered so that everyone felt comfortable with what they would do if there was a need to react.

Once in our groups we discussed any concerns. Our group, now named Rhaslas – after the pond across the road under threat of excavation ( Preserve-Rhaslas-Pond Blog) discussed what to do if someone was unable to complete our given mission. My concerns were mainly for Jim (UVAG) who is in his seventies. Although he is a keen walker, he had problems with his shoulder after falling recently. No-one thought there was a problem, he would be carefully observed at all times, and diplomatically we decided that if anyone had to return our group of twelve would split into two groups of six. One would go on and the other would return to camp.

Legal cards were issued, in case of arrest and we all collected our red jumpsuits.

The hospitality we received was second to none. It was outstanding. From friendliness to information to the wonderful food and warm drinks. There was also a bar – exclusively donations. We made many friends locally and away, hopefully we will see many of them again.

Marianne Rhiannon came up from Cardiff (SWP) http://www.socialistpartywales.org.uk/home.shtml and gave talks about green jobs, during the evening she raised over £90.00

The Great Day Dawns – Tuesday 3rd May – TRESPASS

We were at camp by 7am. Hundreds of Tele-Tubbies united by one objective – to,

SHUT DOWN FFOS Y FRAN.

Rumours were flying that the work had already been stopped. The Pixies were already in the mine and the offices had been taken over.

‘Don’t forget your lunches,’ I heard over all the excited chatter. Not surprising really. Like I said, organisation was a key part of this camp. The food suppliers (FOE and Co.) had stayed up all night preparing food for everyone. Delicious sandwiches, rolls, lemon cake, raisins, bananas and fruit juice. How wonderful. All I had brought was a few chocolate bars stuffed in my pockets, some mints and some water to share.

We set off at 7.30am as planned. Round the back of the camp, up through the rushes and tumps and arrived at a small barbed wire fence, the wire had been cut so no-one would get injured. (It was repaired later on.) Everyone was seen safely over and as we headed downwards we all linked arms. At the top of the first man-made road, two Miller Argent boys stood beside their white land rover. There was no animosity, just a series of ‘Good Mornings,’ from everybody. A great start.

We trekked upwards through oil and sludge following the truck roads as we’d been asked to the previous night. As we descended the blasters stood silent. Further down the youngsters clambered onto the huge Komatsu digger trucks; chanting and singing. As the drum beats began, the destructive machinery morphed into musical instruments. Tapped by feet and pounded by hands, their tune was accompanied by songs of solidarity and anti-oppression. A good time for a picnic and a photo shoot.

Soon we were joined by Kelvin and his Dragon crew. Then we were informed of that instead of the Pixies coming up to join us, it would make more of an impact if we joined them.

Although concerned for members of our team, there was a quick discussion and everyone agreed to go on. This was too good an opportunity to miss. We would draw the red line at the bottom of the mine.

It was a hell of a trek, but the chanting and singing kept our spirits high. The lower we got the more buoyant everyone became. It was awesome. So what if our boots were getting heavier as they picked up more of the oily sludge, nothing could bring us down.

At the bottom a real party ensued. Dancing and singing broke out to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, with Miller Argent boys joining in. We also did a massive Okey Cokey. Who won the football game going on? I think it must have been the Reds. And not forgetting the giant silver Volley-cube game too.

Of course it had to rain, we were in Wales after all. But guess what, organisational skills again, up went the red brollies provided.

We formed a red line, with the Dragon up front on one of the yellow trucks at standstill. The line snaked along the pit bottom and stretched further up the road. There was a photographer to our left and then the drone flew over for some fantastic aerial footage.

Video footage here: Reclaim The Power Videos

Reclaim the Power photos May 2016

Fields of Light Photography – Ffos Y Fran May 2016

Once they had their pics and videos our group decided to head back to camp. We were joined by one of the legal observers and Yohan. Thanks guys. The rest stayed to party until they were asked to leave a few hours later. It was a huge success, there was no aggressive behaviour by any party. And best of all, No Injuries and NO ARRESTS! We also found out later that the Miller Argent boys gave the stragglers a lift to the top.

After our slog back to camp it was wonderful to get a warm mug of tea and a delicious plate of hot veggie food. Thanks you all.

Whilst recovering, we were informed about ‘The Fluffies’ day. They had encountered police presence on the front gates. But there was no animosity. They spent the day singing and dancing, and were even joined by Miller Argent and the police. (See photos to prove this.)

They  sang loudly and proudly and in tune, unlike me later. One of the songs, composed by UVAG CHAIR, Terry Evans is included below:

 

THE UVAG OPENCAST SONG

 WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

BECAUSE WE KNOW WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

 

MY MIND HAS SEEN THE DIGGERS

THAT ARE WORKING ON THE TIP

IT’S CALLED FFOS-Y-FRAN AND

IT’S MAKING PEOPLE SICK

WE MUST DO OUR DUTY

TO STOP THIS OTHER ONE

SO WE MUST FIGHT IT NOW

 

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE’VE BEEN THROUGH IT ALL BEFORE

 

MY MIND HAS SEEN THE BEAUTY

THAT IS CALLED NANT LLESG

THEY WANT TO DIG UP

AND MAKE A BLOODY MESS

THEY WANT TO MAKE US SUFFER

SO THEY CAN MAKE THEIR WEALTH

SO WE MUST FIGHT IT NOW

 

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE’VE BEEN THROUGH IT ALL BEFORE

 

MY MIND HAS SEEN THE MONEY

THAT THEIR THROWING AT US ALL

THEY START THE PEOPLE FIGHTING

SO THEY CAN HAVE A BALL

THE COUNCIL RUB THEIR HANDS

TO SEE WHAT THEY CAN GET

SO WE MUST STOP THEM NOW

 

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

WE DON’T WANT AN OPENCAST MINE

STICK YOUR MONEY WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE

 

Here’s an extra verse for the completed trespass:

We shut down Ffos Y Fran and had a party in the mine,

Cos we don’t need coal no more.

Dirty, dusty fossil fuel

Dirty, dusty fossil fuel

Dirty, dusty fossil fuel

Just keep it in the ground!

 

The evening was full of more inspirational talks about the success of every group that day. Many thanks were given out to everyone who took part no matter what role they played. UVAG were made to feel like celebs – that was overwhelming – we were almost in tears.

Then we sang the UVAG song, but I forgot the words. Luckily Sheila came to the rescue, she had the words on her phone, everyone joined in at the tops of their voices. What a wonderful way to end the day.

Here are two more great Blogs about the camp:

Bridgend’s Green Leftie/2016/05/03/end-coal-now-reclaim-the-power-protest-at-ffos-y-fran/

Lush.com/soapbox-reclaim-power

End-Coal-Now-websitebanner-900 (Large)

Protest Camp – Reclaim The Power – United Valley’s Action Group

 When questioned by the Mayor, politicians and police

UVAG members told them:

‘It was The Guardian published that piece.

All you need to know is in that article, you see.

Read it up and then you’ll know as much as them and me.’

‘I heard the camp is secret.’

‘Yes, Butt, but just ’til Saturday. Then location will

be tweeted and F –  B’d around midday.’

 

Come along and listen or come along and speak.

Join in with the workshops – make some banners.

Don’t be meek.

It’s all about education, information and the truth.

Ending fossil fuels, bringing green jobs, it’s not uncouth.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite, organised, researched

and networked well.

Not just in the Valleys –

The whole world has joined to quell –

Outdated ways of generating electricity and gas.

Highlighting the dangers of fracking and opencast.

 

Solidarity Sunday – will be fun for all the family.

Face painting, activities, tea and cakes – it’s all for FREE.

 

On Monday learn to fix your bike,

And watch a film about the Miners’ Strike.

That year long fight in ’84 –

Before Thatcher shut the Colliery doors.

 

If it’s action that you want –

Wear red for Tuesday’s protest –

And join us up at Ffos Y Fran

to save the site of Nant Llesg.

 

Wednesday is a clean up mission –

To leave the venue in pristine condition.

Keeping propaganda lies at bay,

So we can camp another day.

So grab your bags – refuse black

and don’t forget your green recycling sack.

by Baarbaara The Sheep

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…Link to the article in The Guardian

Reblogged from Reclaim The Power . Org

ACTION CAMP AT FFOS-Y-FRAN OPENCAST PUTS COAL ON AGENDA FOR ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales Hundreds of people will gather near Merthyr Tydfil to shut down the UK’s largest opencast coal mine – Ffos-y-fran – just days before Wales goes to the polls.

The ‘End Coal Now’ camp is being organised by climate activist network Reclaim the Power over the May Day bank holiday. Participants are calling for a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales and the UK and the creation of thousands of green jobs, to tackle climate change and dangerous air pollution in Welsh communities.

Ellen Gibson, a spokesperson from Reclaim the Power, commented:

“The local community have battled the giant Ffos-y-fran mine polluting their homes and our planet for nearly a decade. Now we are joining them to resist coal company Miller Argent’s attempts to override local democracy and force through a new mine next door.

“Last April, the Welsh Assembly voted for a moratorium on opencast coal mining but the government ignored them. Wales deserves a transition away from polluting energy, towards clean energy and thousands of jobs. Our camp will show the candidates running for election that the public demands a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales, and the rest of the UK.”

The camp has been welcomed by local campaigners, who have opposed the 11 million tonne Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine since 2007 and are now fighting a new proposed mine next door at Nant Llesg. Caerphilly County Council rejected the application for the new mine in August 2015 but the coal company Miller Argent is trying to overturn this decision.

Chris and Alyson Austin from local campaign group, United Valleys Action Group commented:

“This camp will boost the local community who are campaigning against dangerous levels of air pollution, noise and degradation of our beautiful landscape.

“It will also draw greater attention to the bullying tactics coal companies are using to try and overturn community rejection and enclose common land at Nant Llesg.”

Ahead of a mass trespass to halt mining operations at Ffos-y-Fran, Reclaim the Power are inviting Assembly candidates and local councillors to affirm their opposition to the Nant Llesg coal mine at a “Solidarity Sunday” rally on May 1st.

The action camp puts south Wales on the map, as one of twelve actions happening on every continent for aglobal month of action in support of a transition away from fossil fuels. International campaigners will join the camp to share their experiences of resisting dirty energy projects in Germany, Bangladesh and elsewhere.

CONTACT: For more information about media passes at the camp, further quotes and high-quality photos of previous actions please contact press@reclaimthepower.org.uk

Notes for Editors

  1. For more information on the action, visithttp://reclaimthepower.org.uk/endcoalnow
  2. Local people have campaigned against the huge Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine since 2007, and are now fighting the proposed mine at Nant Llesg. Visithttp://stopffosyfran.co.uk/ and UVAG’s Facebook page to find out more about the community’s fight. With the recent sale of the mine to new company Gwent Investments Ltd., there’s no guarantee the mines will ever be restored.
  3. Coal isthe dirtiest fuel of all. It produces more CO2 than any other fossil fuel; releases sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the air, which damage health, create acid rain and smog; releases toxins into the local water supply, including mercury and other heavy metals; and mining causes noise pollution which breach legal limits.
  4. To keep global temperatures from increasing beyond 2oC, scientists say we need tokeep more than 80% of coal reserves in the ground. 195 countries agreed in Paris in December to try to keep temperatures below 1.5OC, and reduce carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ in the second half of the century.
  5. A recent survey by Friends of the Earth Cymru foundover three-quarters of respondents were strong supporters of a “fossil-free” Wales.
  6. Air pollution from coal plants in the UK were estimated tocause 1,600 premature deaths a year. Coal mined at Ffos-y-fran supplies the Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales. Aberthaw has been in breach of legal air pollution limits since 2008, for which the UK government is currently being taken to court by the European Commission. A recent report by Friends of the Earth Cymru estimates that, factoring in its health and environmental impacts, Aberthaw is a net drain on society to the tune of £400million.
  7. The UK government has announced an intention to phase outcoal power by 2025. Coal from Ffos-y-fran fuels the highly-polluting Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales, which has been in breach of EU air quality regulations for eight years.
  8. The Welsh Assemblyvoted in 2015 for a moratorium on new opencast coal mines, but this has not been turned into law by the current Welsh government. Countries around the world, led by the Pacific Island States, are calling for a global moratorium on all new coal mines.
  9. Merthyr is one of the most deprived parts of the UK. Of the 432 local authorities in the UK, life expectancy in 2005 came429th.
  10. As of September 2015 2168 people were employed in coal extraction in the UK. In comparison more than 110,000 people in Britain had jobs in renewable energy generation as of May last year.
  11. This action is part ofGroundswell: a year of escalating direct action planned by Reclaim the Power in the wake of the Paris climate talks.

April 19, 2016 by Ellen in Press Releases

 

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