guardian.co.uk | Climate change campaigners pledged today to set up a permanent protest camp at Kingsnorth, near Rochester in Kent, if the government allows a large new coal-fired power station to be built there.
Their defiant statement came as the police said they had arrested 100 protesters and charged 46 of them during the week-long protest that culminated on Saturday at the existing power station on the site, run by German energy company E.ON.
Most of those charged were accused of obstruction offences. The cost of policing the protest is believed to have been over £1m.
Four people were arrested after they managed to get inside the grounds of the power station on Saturday, and 19 others climbed over the outer perimeter fence. But a spokesman for E.ON said the protesters had not affected its power output.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge of Kent police denied claims from protesters of heavy-handedness by some of the 1,400 police officers from 26 forces who were deployed to the camp.
“Our policy was that policing was proportionate to this threat,” he said. “Because of the level of resistance, officers were authorised to carry batons during two days of the protest. There are strict legal standards for their use and we gave clear warnings when any specialist team was deployed, which is our policy. Those intent on breaking the law had the choice and opportunity to stop.”
A spokesman for the Climate Camp said that there had been “widespread condemnation” of tactics used by police during the event. These included indiscriminate use of stop and search powers, the use of helicopters to disrupt workshops and speeches, and the confiscation of many items.
Kevin Smith said: “Our legal team are going to be exhausting every possible channel for holding the police accountable for the draconian use of stop and search measures, for the things they confiscated, and for their violent incursions on to the camp.
“Every year police use the supposed existence of a hardcore minority as justification for their heavy-handedness and every year this hardcore minority fails to materialise.”
The protesters claim that giving the go-ahead to a large new station would herald a new generation of highly polluting coal power stations giving the UK no chance of meeting its targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The government argues that such stations are crucial to ensuring secure energy supply and that in future new technology will be able to capture and bury the exhaust gases.
Action by Climate Camp activists continued today with nine people targeting the UK head office of international mining giant BHP Billiton, with two protesters supergluing themselves to the front doors.