draxcoalprotest1A jury in the north of England will decide today whether 22 climate change activists who boarded a coal train heading to the notorious Drax power station are innocent or guilty.

The accused had stopped a train carrying 42,000 tonnes of coal in June last year on its way to Drax in North Yorkshire, the biggest coal-fired power station in Europe. Coal is seen as the dirtiest fossil fuel there is and the issue of coal burning power stations is rising up the political agenda in Europe and US. To see a video of the original protest go here.

The activists flagged the train down using fake signalmen and then occupied it for 16 hours, arguing that the action was “necessary and proportionate to prevent the crime of carbon emissions” and the deaths that result from them. The defendants had repeatedly tried to make the wider case about the dangers of climate change to the jury.

A related defence of lawful excuse had been previously used successfully by Greenpeace activists who defaced the coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent in 2007 in what has become an internationally renown case, even having a documentary made about it.

However, the Drax judge refused to accept the argument, repeatedly ruling that the jury should ignore the wider issues surrounding climate change and focus on the narrow legal case of the legality of boarding a coal train. At a previous hearing the judge ruled the “necessity defence” was inadmissible. He had also banned the attendance of a string of expert witnesses from the UN, Nasa, and countries affected by possible consequences of global warming such as the Arctic and New Orleans.

The final statement was given by charity worker Jonathan Stevenson, 26, who finished by telling the jury:

“We all know that times change, and what was acceptable in one era may not be acceptable in another. You have heard of how it was once legal to own other people, how it was illegal for women to vote. Well one way or another we are going to have to stop burning coal and move on from the fossil fuel era. And that means that the law will eventually have to change and acknowledge the harm that carbon emissions do to all of us, by making them illegal. The only question is whether the law will catch up in time for there to be anything left to protect.”

Let’s hope the jury agree with him and the other defendents. Hopefully they have watched the Kingsnorth film, which opens with a quote from Martin Luther King: “A time comes when silence is betrayal”….

One Comment

  • The fake signalmen in this story are just like the government here in the UK, they are not telling us what is coming, their many spin doctors know what is a foot already, yet they still continue to concentrate on recovery and growth, this is where the problem lies, growth is using up the resorces faster that ever, an end to the motor vehicle needs to be brough forward as fuel costs get rarer and more expensive.

    Leaving the most important reserves in the ground until we need them is what has happened through default in the UK in the past, Maggie saw waste to our coal production by importing cheaper coal which inadvertantly kept ours from being dug up and used up.

    Winter time is where the most problems would occur, there is a saying that heat is half meat, keep yourself warm and you only need half the food to sustain the well being of the human body.

    Boi fuels are a non starter because they are seasonal, and giving the UK population today we have already surpassed the numbers where the land could produce enough to eat let alone power our cars, next day Brittain would have to be curtailed to save valuable fuels for medical and defence.

    As we are fast running out of North sea oil which paid for the war effort last time around, our coal is our only backup, gas will be off tap when the m iddle eastern and Russian federation countries implode for their last reserves, the smaller nations with any reservbes worth having will be over run in a very short time indeed.

    Only the larger stronger men will be able to survive the drought, with water these survivours will last a good 50 days by which time most will have died or have been eaten by the masses, two months from the onslaught 75% of the population will be either dead or close to it.

    Leaving it in the ground is a good policy but one which will not make it accesable to all but the strongest survivours, only time will tell, rationing now is the only sure way to save the worst of times ahead.

    Less can most definately be more, right here right now.

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