Claire's blog

Fracking protesters released on appeal

Update: the sentences of all three men have been quashed on appeal as 'manifestly excessive'

“This won’t break us, we will come out stronger. Some may view us as victims, but we refuse to be victimised by this. The real victims will be future generations suffering preventable disasters caused by climate change. Our friends and fellow campaigners outside will continue to fight for a ban on fracking and for a just transition to a renewable and democratically owned energy system” - Roscoe Blevins

In July 2017 a convoy of lorries delivering drilling equipment to the Preston New Road fracking site was spontaneously brought to a halt by protestors. Four men took the opportunity to climb up on top of the cabs of the lorries and between them stayed in occupation for 99 and a half hours, supported by supplies from locals.

On Wednesday 26 September, three of the men were sentenced to prison for this peaceful protest. Roscoe Blevins and Richard Roberts received 16 months immediate custodial sentences. Richard Loizou received 15 months immediate custodial sentences. They can expect to serve half of this time in jail. The rest on licence. 

Julian Brock also received 12 months suspended custodial sentence.

The harshness of these sentences can only be seen as a desperate attempt to quell dissent and protest by an industry that faces increasing public resistance. The defendants were not allowed to speak in court about the reasons for their actions.

Hambach forest: tragedy and solidarity

Hambach forest in Germany is 12,000 years old. But less than a tenth of it remains, and the remainder is under threat from ever expanding lignite coal mining. Lignite ('brown coal') is even more climate polluting than black coal, and the vast mines scar the landscape, swallowing up forests and villages.

Those who took up residence in the forest, and those who support them, are drawing a line for the forest and for our climate: no more - Hambi Bleibt (Hambi stays). But in their eagerness for profits, energy company RWE are not willing to wait for the outcome of a commission on quitting coal, they want protectors evicted to raze the forest. Police went in with disproportionate force, and were intent on eviction. Then on Wednesday 19 September, journalist, blogger and activist Steffen Horst Meyn, fell to his death from a suspension bridgewhile attempting to document an ongoing eviction action. You can read more about the circumstances here

A few days later, the evictions continued. "We were never given time to mourn"

This tragedy has been felt internationally, raising awareness of the destruction Steffan was bearing witness to. A petition to the German government to block the forest clearance has reached over 750,000 signatures. Sign here.

TUC motions mixed news on climate

A motion passed at Trades Union Congress carries the risk of moving backwards from last year's progress on climate policy (2017 climate motion).  

The Campaign against Climate Change is deeply concerned about elements of the GMB motion on 'Just transition and energy workers' voice'. 

Climate change is first and foremost a social justice issue. It will have consequences for every one of us, and hits the poorest first and hardest. The TUC therefore has the responsibility to reflect the voices of all its members in forming energy and climate policies. Future jobs in solar, wind and energy efficiency are crucial to our economy and these sectors have been badly affected by government cuts. The TUC must be a voice for them too, and call for urgent investment in climate jobs, not locking us into white elephant infrastructure such as new gas power stations. Energy unions of course have an important perspective but the suggestion that their views should be 'paramount and central' in determining TUC policy risks undermining strong climate action.

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