Posts Tagged ‘Mainshill Forest’

Tree Top Village

September 18, 2011

Originally published in Veritas newspaper in February 2010

As the planet goes into a polar cap meltdown, hurricanes destroy states, and earthquakes leave thousands dead, there are some of us in higher positions than ourselves carrying on as if nothing had ever happened. Carbon emissions? Global warming? Greenhouse gases? Who cares?

Amidst this neglect, are pockets of tree-hugging hippies with nothing better to do than tie themselves to machines, destroy public property and illegally trespass. Protests have resulted in bloodshed, arrest and deportation. On these grounds, it seems an awful lot to sacrifice ones freedom for just a few Sycamores.

After the seven month occupation of Mainshill Forest in South Lanarkshire, resulting in 45 arrests, worldwide media attention and massive support from local residents, Veritas newspaper decided it was time to round up the facts.

Unless you spend all day on Facebook, it should not surprise anyone that we are in the middle of an energy crisis. Wind power is unsightly, Solar power too radical, Oil costs lives and Nuclear power results in cancer and contamination. Thankfully our heads of state have revealed the Golden Goose- ‘Clean Coal’. As President Barack Obama declared, “We are the Saudi Arabia of Coal. We got more coal than just about anybody else”. Problem solved then. 

The technology proposed to turn this enormous, economic, venture into a technofix has yet to be invented. Carbon capture and storage or CCS technology is about as commercially viable as the Sony minidisk. So then why is the Scottish government signing over land to Scottish Coal so freeIy?

Veritas put the question to MSP for Clydesdale, Karen Gillon, who after defending Scotland’s “plethera of flaura and fauna” in the Scottish Parliament, signed the papers for the go-ahead of 18 open cast mines in the greenbelt of Midlothian.

Here are the facts as we find them: Councillor Daniel Meikle, MSP Karen Gillon and MP Jim Hood, who represent South Lanarkshire and the Douglas community, have supported every application for open-cast mining despite 650 signed petitions in opposition.  Out of a population of 1,000 residents, the town of Douglas are clearly against the environmental impacts of the Scottish government’s new energy policy.

Lord Home, a member of the House of Lords and owner of the Douglas Estate, stands to make millions of pounds out of a hand shake and will never see the destruction of agricultural and forest lands from his stately home.

Allegations from Mainshill protester, Ross Jones, stated, “There is a huge amount of local corruption in the South Lanarkshire Council and it goes to every level from councillors to the MSP to the MP and then of course to Lord Home who sits in the House of Lords. At every level there is so much collusion between Scottish Coal and the authorities, that it means communities have no hope whatsoever of having any self determination or say about what goes on in their local areas.”

So who can we turn to when Scotland’s beauty and diversity is ‘souled’ from right under our feet? Certainly not your local bobby as Veritas were informed by Mainshill Solidarity Camp;

“Strathclyde police are not as bad as a lot of other police forces and a lot of them are local cops, who don’t want the open cast either, but then as our campaign intensified and we were getting more and more successful, pissing of Scottish Coal more and more, they changed. It was obvious whom the police were working for. They were working for Scottish Coal and not the public interest.”

When we arrived at the biggest site occupation and eviction since the Manchester airport in 1999, there was little more to see than a pile of rubble. Veritas photographer, Matthew Dale, was chased off the site trying to document the aftermath. As a result of the media attention on this subject, one independent journalist was arrested for entering Mainshill Forest and the local Douglas Gazette was refused permission to photograph the eviction.

As Lindsay Addison, chairperson of Douglas and Glespin Community Council said, “We are sad to see this part of our community so forcefully taken away from us by the same people destroying our health and our countryside. Why is it not a crime to dig up and burn coal when we know that the planet and people are suffering because if it? Why would you arrest and criminalise the people trying to protect the planet? The real criminals are those making this mine happen against the wishes of the community.” 

Despite criticism, Mainshill Solidarity Camp are regrouping, ready for more action. Ross Jones left the interview with this statement;

“The eviction is not the end of the campaign, but a part of it and so we are looking for ways we can keep the level of community engagement with the locals going and looking at future sites to occupy.”

See a report written by Ecologists for a Sustainable Future here: http://coalaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/A-response-to-the-Environmental-Statement-Addendum.pdf

Update and information about the camp: http://happendon.coalactionscotland.org.uk   www.coalactionscotland.org.uk http://southlanarkshirecoalcil.noflag.org.uk/

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