In Celebration of a Beautiful Action to Shut Down the UK's Largest Opencast Coal Mine
A report on the peaceful direct action that shut down the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine in Wales
In Celebration of a Beautiful Action to Shut Down the UK's Largest Opencast Coal Mine
By Andrew Butler / filmsforaction.org
May 4, 2016

It’s around 5:30am and the Reclaim the Power action camp is awoken by an unusual alarm clock; the dull thud of a police helicopter, making slow low circles above the tents. It’s the day of a mass action to close down Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest opencast coal mine near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. It’s a bright but bitterly cold morning, sleepy people begin to emerge from ice-covered tents and make their way to the tea tent to fortify themselves for the day ahead. We’re due to set off at 7:30am and the only thing that might scupper the plans are the queues for the 3 compost loos, which are long and slow moving. Still, there is a nervous but joyful excitement in the air and the people waiting in line are kept entertained by a very funny and rude clown and some tunes from a portable sound system; Get Down by P.O.S. has people bouncing, but it’s unclear if it’s the music or the need for a poo that has them on their toes.

Coal_Camp_Action_AScaife-01

Everything works out and people move off on time, with four big blocks of about one hundred people each going in different directions and with a different part of the mine as a destination. Within the blocks are smaller affinity groups, each with their own missions cooked up over the preceding 3 days in the camp. Everyone is dressed in red boiler suits - red is the theme of the day as people use their bodies and banners to draw red lines across the mine, symbolising the lines we cannot cross if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Coal_Camp_Action_AScaife-19

Ffos-y-Fran has ambitious expansion plans to open a new pit, one closer to people’s homes, which would add to the dust, noise and air pollution that local residents already suffer and make it harder to meet the emissions reduction targets agreed to by the British government and international community. This is why people have come from all over the country to join in solidarity with local residents to protest the expansion plans and say ”No New Coal”.

Coal_Camp_Action_AScaife-15

Walking into the mine no one knows what to expect; will there be riot police, lines of security guards or impenetrable fencing? As it turns out it’s much easier than expected and all the teams make it into the mine with minimal fuss. During the course of the next 12 hours there are people of all ages taking action, from blockading the tracks with lock-ons to people walking the paths with signs, dancing under the enormous diggers, performing plays, playing football and hanging banners from trucks.

It is a truly beautiful sight to behold - hundreds of people working together in every aspect of the action camp; from taking the site to cooking the food, facilitating the workshops to taking care of each others wellbeing. It is a taste of another world that is not only possible but essential for our wellbeing and continued survival. And it’s a world that in many ways is already here.

Coal_Camp_Action_AScaife-13

Rather than writing something afresh, perhaps the best way to end this piece and illustrate the spirit of the camp is to republish the Action Consensus which was co-written and agreed upon by the participants ahead of the action and embodied by what took place on the day; when the UK’s largest opencast coal mine was peacefully shut down without accident, incident or arrest.

End Coal Now - red line


Reclaim the Power Action Consensus – End Coal Now 2016

On 3rd May 2016, Reclaim the Power is hosting a mass trespass at Ffos-y-fran opencast mine near Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. The invitation to join is open to anyone who can envision a cleaner, fairer future beyond coal, and who wants to take action to stop the expansion of opencast coal in Wales.

For nearly a decade, the 11-million-tonne Ffos-y-fran mine has scarred the landscape and the community in South Wales. Despite massive public and political opposition locally and nationally within Wales, the mine’s operator Miller Argent now wants to dig another vast coal mine just over the brow of the hill at Nant Llesg.

This is a massive affront not only to local democracy and protest, but also to the international climate agreement signed by the UK and other governments in Paris last December. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and we cannot transition to a just, democratic and clean energy system while we continue to open new coal mines. We know we need to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

On Tuesday 3rd May, hundreds of us will enter the mine at Ffos-y-fran. Through our presence in the mine, amongst the vehicles and machinery, we will force the mine operator Miller Argent to suspend operations. This action takes place two days before Welsh voters choose a new Government for Wales, and hence the minister who will decide whether to permit mining at Nant Llesg. Our aim is to show the strength of public pressure locally and globally, for an end to opencast mining, in Wales and beyond.

This action agreement has been drawn up to explain what you can expect to happen on the day.  We respect that movements are diverse and we chose to adopt different tactics in different circumstances. In this case our action agreement has been created in a spirit of respect for the local community campaigners.

The plan is as follows. With our bodies and banners, we will draw a red line across the mine, to show that new coal crosses a red line for the climate. Everyone participating is encouraged to wear red and to bring banners, signs, flags, streamers, props and costumes to make the action beautiful.

We will behave in a calm and cool-headed way, we will not escalate the situation to violence and we will not damage machinery. Safety will be our top priority. We will be well-prepared to enter the site safely, and will ask drivers to turn off their vehicles. We take common responsibility for the success of this action, and for supporting each other. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be welcome to participate.

We understand that the mine workers rely on their jobs to provide for themselves and their families. We will treat them with dignity and respect at all times. Our issue is with the company, the bosses and the government. Our demand is not only to leave fossil fuels in the ground, in South Wales and elsewhere, but also for the creation of rewarding employment opportunities for all, in an economy which respects our planet and all its inhabitants, now and in the future.

Everyone is welcome regardless of whether they have experience of protests or not.

This action was part of the Groundswell year of action and Break Free wave of action to keep fossil fuels in the ground. For more information visit Reclaim The Power.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 22,612 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 13,547 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 11,075 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 9,849 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 4,455 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
Everything We Think We Know About Addiction Is Wrong
6 min · 4,046 views today · What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple. This video is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing...
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 3,712 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 2,707 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Voices of Standing Rock
49 min · 2,693 views today · Short stories told by water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Part 1 - Introduction: Since mid-August 2016, thousands have set up camp near the Standing Rock Sioux...
Charles Eisenstein: The Two Great Stories That Give Meaning to Our Lives
6 min · 2,513 views today · What matters in life? Who are we? Every culture has answers to these questions. And the way we answer them has profound effects on the health of people and planet. This is a...
Artificial Ethics and the Search for Intelligence
5 min · 2,179 views today · How to stop a robot turning evil.  It's 2027 and Mental Endeavours Ltd has a problem with their flagship robot Günther. How do you program an intelligent machine not to...
Philippine Vigils Against Vigilantes - The Reign of Terror in the President's War on Drugs
7 min · 1,691 views today · The war on drugs waged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has taken more than 7,000 lives since its inception. It took the killing of a South Korean businessman by police...
Films for Action's Public Film Screening Guide
Tim Hjersted and Matt Toplikar · 1,648 views today · This guide will give you step by step instructions on how to host Films For Action sponsored film screening events in your city. It is intended primarily for people who have...
Two Ways to Build Global Community
Dan Hind · 1,448 views today · A platform co-operative approach to information, rather than the models of Facebook and legacy media, provide reason for optimism, writes Dan Hind.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 901 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
System Change Will Not Be Negotiated
Nnimmo Bassey · 871 views today · We frequently hear calls for system change, at public mobilisations, in conference halls and even in negotiation halls. The calls come as slogans, they come in anger and they...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 831 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 827 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 792 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 710 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
In Celebration of a Beautiful Action to Shut Down the UK's Largest Opencast Coal Mine