In January 2018 local people were joined by activists from all over the UK and mainland Europe to fight against opencast coal extraction in the Pont Valley, Durham. We set up an action camp in the ‘Beast from the East’, occupied the site for 50 days and took part in peaceful actions with the intention of preventing the opencast starting before the planning permission expired on 3rd June 2018. Around 20 protectors were arrested. Half had their charges dismissed on the ground of committing a lesser crime to prevent a greater crime.
Banks Mining are currently in the process of extracting 500,000 tonnes of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, from the hillside 300m from our homes. Despite his own government’s policies on climate, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing and Communities, refused to revoke planning permission. He subsequently admitted his decision was flawed. A fresh decision is expected on 13 June, the first day of this conference. Watch this space.