Two opencast coal mines shut down

| 20th August 2019
Protesters on diggers at Fieldhouse opencast mine
Earth First!
Activists under the banner of Earth First! take on coal mining in the North East of England.

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Activists entered and occupied machinery in Field House mine and blockaded Shotton mine yesterday.

Their aim was to stop the mining companies from continuing to dig up coal, destroying the surrounding environment and contributing to the climate catastrophe.

People taking action come from the North East, around the UK and abroad.

Continued extraction

Opencast coal mining is strongly resisted in the "desolate North", an area that has become a sacrifice zone for continued economic growth at the cost of the global climate, local environment and community health.

The region supplies the UK's dirty power stations, leading CO2 emitters, while people in the global South are suffering the consequences. Even in the UK we are starting to see the impacts of climate change such as flooding and the expected sea level rise will affect coastal areas around the country.

Field House opencast started in 2018 and is operated by Hargreaves. The exact destination or power stations that the coal is being transported to is unknown. Machinery inside the mine was occupied, despite violent attacks by security.

Coal provided just 5.3 percent of the electricity generated in the UK in 2018. Recent research by Friends of the Earth has shown that already, enough coal is held in stockpiles in the UK to last until 2025, the date by which the UK government has committed to phasing out coal.

Yet, it allows for continued extraction, expansion and even proposals for 2 new coal mines to go ahead.

Green capitalism

Coal burning is one of the main contributors to climate change. It also destroys valuable habitat and impacts air quality where it is dug and where it is burnt.

The Bradley mine in the Pont Valley, Durham violated European and UK nature conservation legislation by destroying Great Crested Newt habitat.

We need to stop importing coal, and we need to stop digging it up in the UK now. Fracking, biomass, gas and nuclear are not solutions either. Neither do we want large-scale, corporate-controlled renewable energy installations that rely on the mining of rare metals elsewhere to power industrial so-called "development". Green capitalism is not the answer.

Instead, we have to work towards radically different, locally and communally controlled, off-grid solutions that involve the use of DIY technologies made with recycled materials.

These solutions need to be coupled with a drastic reduction in energy consumption, and a wider, radical opposition to our capitalist plutocracy.

Such systems can then be embedded in non-hierarchically organised sharing economies that operate according to principles of mutual aid and solidarity.

This Author

Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist's content editor. This article is based on a press release from Earth First! For updates follow @earthfirst_uk on Twitter. 

EarthFirst! is a platform for people to take direct action against the destruction of the earth. They adhere to principles of non-hierarchical organisation and the use of direct action to confront, stop and reverse the destruction of the earth.

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