Broken Cross Open Cast Site blockaded – police act as Scottish Coal private security

This morning Broken Cross opencast site in the Douglas Valley was blockaded for an hour and a half before Scottish Coal workers lifted three people in heavy concrete lock-ons out of the road, all overseen by Inspector Whip (photographed) of Strathclyde Police. This isn’t the first time that Inspector Whip has hurt people by lifting them out of the road. He’s reckless and deliberately put people’s safety at risk, all to protect the profits of Scottish Coal.

 

COAL ACTION SCOTLAND MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE USE 16th July 2012

Activists disrupt coal haulage and police take unacceptable risks of injury at Lanarkshire mine

At 6:00 this morning a group of 20 environmental and social justice activists blockaded the only entrance to Scottish Coal’s Broken Cross Open Cast Coal Site [1] in the Douglas Valley. This prevented all access to the site by coal lorries for one and a half hours before police ordered workers to dangerously carry activists out of the road. Concrete “lock-on tubes” were used to prevent three activists from being removed.

In an act of extreme recklessness, Inspector Whip of Strathclyde Police ordered Scottish Coal employees to drag protesters out of the access road, while they were still attached to their lock-on tubes, each weighing around 50kg. One of those moved was injured in this incident. The three have been arrested and are currently being held in custody.

Rob Hearne, one of the activists supporting the protest at the mine said: “This is not the first time that Inspector Whip and Strathclyde Police have shown such utter disregard for the safety of anti-coal activists. This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable, where untrained workers are allowed to assault people in such a way, breaking all health and safety regulations and committing criminal offences. Strathclyde Police are acting as Scottish Coal’s private security.”

The protest was intended to stop coal from being transported from the mine to railheads and to oppose Scottish Coal’s extension to the mine as part of their “forward strategy” [2]. In particular, it aimed to stop coal HGVs from being routed through Douglas and Glespin, an issue of particular importance for local communities.

Glespin resident David Grey said: “A top traffic police officer has been quoted in the past as saying that someone will have to be killed on Lanarkshire’s roads before something is done about the haulage of coal in this area. HGVs pass right through Douglas and Glespin, past two primary schools with no level crossings, something that Scottish Coal, South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Ministers all said would never happen. And now Inspector Whip endangers the lives of people trying to make the roads safer for local residents! It’s outrageous. Inspector Whip should be ashamed for putting the profits of coal above the safety of people in the valley.”

Today´s protest follows Saturday’s invasion of Mainshill Open Cast Coal Site [3] where 45 activists stopped work on the site for the day. This is part of a week-long action camp and occupation of Scottish Coal’s intended new mine in the area, Glentaggart East [4]. The camp called “Take Back the Land!” [5] has attracted activists from across Scotland, the UK and Europe to take direct action against the blight of opencast coal mining.

Coal Action Scotland are preparing a formal complaint to Strathclyde Police about this incident.

For interviews and comment please contact:

Roger Wilkins on 07917141720 or email contact@coalactionscotland.org.uk

Photos can be emailed upon request.

Notes to editors:

[1] Broken Cross is the larger of Scottish Coal’s two operating open cast coal mines in the Douglas Valley, South Lanarkshire, producing around 15,000 tonnes of coal a week

[2] South Lanarkshire Council approved Scottish Coal’s North (East) Extension to Broken Cross, the third such extension, despite huge community opposition to it. The extension will see the life of the mine extended until 2024, way beyond what Scottish Planning Policy considers an acceptable cumulative impact and something that local residents find totally unacceptable.

[3] Mainshill Wood was occupied by the Mainshill Solidarity Camp on 12th June 2009. It was eventually evicted on 25th January 2010 in an eviction that lasted 5 days. It involved 45 arrests and was the largest protest site eviction in the UK since Manchester Airport 11 years previously. There was huge community opposition to the mine locally, with 654 objections being lodged against the application. Despite Lord Home, the land owner, telling local residents that he’d safeguard the area from mining, he did the opposite and is now being paid by Scottish Coal for lease of the land. Since the start of coaling operations at the site in February 2010 local residents have complained of noise and dust impacts and danger on the roads as coal HGVs are routed through Douglas and Glespin.

Lord Home owns Douglas & Angus Estates. He is the son of the former prime minister Alec Home, a peer in the House of Lords and chairperson of Coutts Bank. He lives in London but has a stately home at Castlemains in the Douglas Valley.

Scottish Coal currently have two operational sites in the valley, Mainshill and Glentaggart, down from 5 in 2010.

[4] Scottish Coal have been given approval by South Lanarkshire Council despite 232 letters of objection to mine 4 million tonnes of coal from the Glentaggart East site, adjacent to the existing Glentaggart site which was in operation between 2001 and 2011. RSPB objected to the application because of the ecologically important blanket bog and protected bird breeding habitats on the 350 hectare site. The mine will be 1.5km away from two primary schools and continue the encirclement of Douglas Valley villages with opencast mines.

Glentaggart East is part of Scottish Coal’s “Forward Strategy”, unveiled in September 2011. It included 3 new opencast mine applications. One of these, Auldton Heights, was withdrawn following a substantial campaign against it. A further extension to Broken Cross, an existing site, was granted permission by the council, despite opposition from local residents.

[5] for more information about Take Back the Land! please see the following website: http://takebacktheland.org.uk/