September 12, 2018 - In England, on September 8, approximately 40 people entered Bradley opencast coal mine, Dipton, owned by Banks Group. At the same time, two people locked on to a digging machine at Field House surface, West Rainton, owned by Hargreaves Surface Mining. As a result, neither mine operated for the day.
The activists came from the Coal Nee More camp, located near Bradley mine, organized by the Protect Pont Valley campaign. This four-day camp ran from September 5-9 and said it provided skills and ideas to “resist the corporations that are destroying our planet”. It included workshops on how to build a lock-on device and encountering police during protest. A lock-on device secures two peoples’ arms together inside a metal or concrete container, making it difficult for police to move them.
On September 8, as part of the camp, activists dressed in red boiler suits entered at the back of Bradley mine and crossed it with banners and chants. Staff from Steadfast Security Group physically confronted several activists. But the group were able to make it to the high barrier, known as a baffle bank, that overlooked a busy main road on the other side of the mine. And they remained on top of the baffle bank until 1pm, when Bradley mine closed.
About 15 protesters later joined activists on a pavement outside the mine. The group comprised local residents and additional activists from the camp. It brought banners and placards, displaying them to passing drivers. There were many honks of support from cars passing by.
The Canary was present during the action and saw no workers arrive to begin their day. Coal Nee More suggested to The Canary that this resulted from its forward advertisement of the action. About a dozen police officers were also present at the protest but made no attempt to remove activists.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director for Banks Group, said in the Northern Echo:
But a press release seen by The Canary said activists:
Field House Mine
Two people from the same camp also carried out an autonomous action at Field House surface mine, West Rainton. The pair locked on to the top of a digger, preventing it from operating. This tactic has been widely used in Coal Nee More actions previously. And it meant work on the site, owned by Hargreaves Surface Mining, was stopped for the day.
The pair displayed a banner reading “System change not climate change”. And one reportedly knitted in solidarity with anti-fracking group Lancashire Nanas. Police were present but made no arrests. The lock-on voluntarily ended at 1pm, the closing time for Field House mine.
In a press release seen by The Canary, one of the people who locked on said:
The date for both actions was chosen to coincide with the global Rise for Climate protests. An estimated 900 events across 95 countries occured on September 8 to highlight climate change.
Tracy Gillman, whose house is next to Bradley mine, spoke to The Canary. Asked about people from outside of County Durham taking action alongside residents, she said:
Gillman also spoke about what the 8 September action means for opposing Bradley mine:
50 Years of Opposition
Bradley open cast mine has faced opposition from Dipton residents for 50 years. And in July 2018 the local miners’ group, Durham Miners Association, came out in support of the resistance. It told the Guardian that Bradley mine:
Approval was given for the mine in June 2015, with a three-year window to begin work. An 86,000 signature petition was delivered to then-communities secretary Sajid Javid in March 2018. Further appeals have been made to current communities secretary James Brokenshire. But in July 2018, Brokenshire said he “would not intervene”.
Activists have since been working with locals to take direct action against the mine. The actions on September 8 are the latest in a campaign to empower people against a fossil fuel corporation. But it’s clear they won’t be the last.