SchNews | It’s another mediocre summer and we’re back at the Camp for Climate Action. First there was Drax, then Heathrow and now the sequel… Climate Camp III has been set on the east coast of Kent three miles or so from Kingsnorth – already home to a power station that pumps out as much carbon dioxide as the 30 least-polluting countries in the world combined — and proposed site of first new UK coal-fired power station for 30 years.
So SchNEWS reporters have joined the great unwashed throng of around a thousand and a half others, made up of yer usual rabble-rousing regulars – including, according to cops, 150 extremists (only 150? Come on black bloc let’s be aving yer!), plus up-for-it students, ageing hippies and Guardian-carrying liberals (the paper did their own bijoux guide to the camp – getting the day of the mass action wrong. Oops).
Having taken the site — a mile outside Hoo St Weburgh on Wednesday last week (July 30), initially there were not enough people to defend it and riot police carried out a number of heavy-handed raids, beating up campaigners and nicking important infrastructure gear like plumbing etc. Whilst some of this is still impounded, ever-resourceful campers have found ways round it and the actual organisation is once again clockwork. One hard-bitten, over-60 was heard to comment: “How come it’s always the anarchists who provide the best organised, most efficient kitchens”. Couldn’t agree more mate – the SchNEWS chef de resistance has given the vegan food a rating of 8/10 this year!
Police tactics have been the main talking point at the camp so far. A rumoured wholly-proportionate 1,400 cops are involved at a cost of £5m, with forces from Wales, Kent itself and the trusty ‘boot ‘em first pay compensation later’ Met. Unlike the hotels which were laid on for cops last year, it looks like they’re slumming it in their very own super tent (a kind of close encounters white dome structure) up on the hill back down past Hoo. Clearly unhappy at being so completely out-manoeuvred once again by camp organisers – setting up camp under their noses – they are venting their frustrations in a number of ways.
For starters everyone on the main route into the camp (on Dux Court Rd) gets searched, coming in as well as out (one to bear in mind for Saturday’s mass action when green/orange/blue/silver blocks will aim to shut Kingsnorth down for the day). Things which have been so far been confiscated include, er, some glue and a bar of soap. As well as wheeling out a War on Terror board game for Murdoch journo types to slaver over, police claim they found a stash of weapons in the woods nearby including a ‘replica’ ninja throwing star (a plastic toy maybe?) and an assortment of knives including a three bladed affair which could allegedley be used against a police horse (lots of vegan horse killers at the camp this year then?)
Other bullshit to come protesters way include the constant buzzing of police helicopters during the day and night — including low flying for the purposes of thermal imaging or intimidation presumably. It looks like top brass are looking to cause as much discomfort to campers as possible, despite paying lip-service with the softly softly police liaison teams. These have tried to get a police caravan on site – which was turned down – and last year’s arrangements of an escorted police beat every couple of hours is not happening. With the stand-off hardening, each night the camp has been awoken two or three times to deal with the threat of a raid with increased numbers pigging out the front and rear access points.
Vehicles have been impounded — included the camp shuttle bus running from Strood to site on one occasion — and most of the supplies have as a result had to be carried in on bikes/wheelbarrows and Shanks pony.
Still, not to be put off, the camp is proving popular with locals around the Medway area, despite the welcoming local paper A-boards (‘Medway invaded by eco-warriors’ and the like). More families, pensioners, and terrible teens have been turning up than did last year at Heathrow.
With Saturday’s shenanighans to come it’s looking like Kingsnorth could be a timely reminder to Brown and co. that we won’t be taking their greenwash lying down. For more info on the mass action and the reasons behind the No New Coal message go to www.climatecamp.org.uk