Eco-camp protesters boast of 'fantastic' sabotage of mine
ACTIVISTS at Scotland's first climate-change camp have begun what they threaten will be a series of acts of industrial sabotage by slashing through a conveyor belt at an open-cast mine, bringing coal grinding to a halt.
In what is believed to have been a raid yesterday afternoon, protesters gained access to the conveyor belt that runs for 6.5km from the Glentaggart open-cast coal mine in South Lanarkshire to the Ravenstruther rail terminal. The coal is then transported to the Drax power station in Yorkshire.
The saboteurs hiked across open countryside to access the heavy rubber belt – which is roughly 5ft in diameter and can carry hundreds of tonnes of coal per day – about two miles from the open-cast mine, and cut through it.
Diarmaid Lynch, a spokesman from the camp, described the act of vandalism as "fantastic news".
He said: "Congratulations to those who did this. Open-cast mining is responsible for a spike in the number of lung-related deaths in this small area.
"It is time that the likes of Scottish Coal and the planning authorities are held directly responsible for their role in these deaths.
"Climate change is a killer, both at home and in the 'Global South', where those who have benefited the least from industrialisation are the first to pay the price."
This week, the protesters, who have gathered at Mainshill Wood, under the eco banner of Climate Camp Scotland, announced a week-long protest.
The site, near Douglas, Lanarkshire, is earmarked for an open-cast mine.
The demonstrators hope to disrupt operations at one or more targets, which include Longannet and Cockenzie, the two coal-fired power stations.
Other possible targets include the Grangemouth refinery, Edinburgh Airport, which is planning an expansion, and RBS, which backs energy companies.
Before the conveyor belt was introduced, it would have required 30,000 lorry journeys to convey the coal to the rail terminal, and yesterday, as a result of the action, coal was once again loaded on to the trucks and conveyed by road.
Last night, a spokesman for Scottish Coal said: "The Glentaggart conveyor is used by Scottish Coal as a way of reducing the road transportation of coal. This reduction in road traffic responds to the wishes of the local community in Douglas. The damage to the conveyor will result in increased transportation of coal by road until the conveyor is fixed tomorrow."
It is understood there was no confrontation between protesters and staff at the mine.
Staff have been warned not to attempt to stop any protest which could result in the mining operations being shut down, despite the fact that many workers are not eligible for pay during shutdowns.
Protesters arrived at the site of this year's climate camp on Monday, after its location was texted to them on Sunday.
Scottish Coal, the UK's largest open-cast mining group, was granted permission to mine 1.7 million tonnes of coal from the woods by South Lanarkshire council in February.
The new site will bring the total number of mines in the area to five – making it one of the most heavily mined areas in Europe, according to the protesters.
Last night a spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: "We received a report of the conveyor belt being damaged at approximately 19:25 hours on Wednesday. Inquiries are ongoing into this incident."
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