Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Taking Back the Land – report

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

A minibus full of folk from Cumbria and Lancaster went to ‘Take Back the Land’ in July 12’, here is an account of the week.

The camp aimed to bring people together for a week of action targeting coal infrastructure in the Douglas Valley. Over the weekend between 80-100 people stayed at or visited the camp. We took action against a number of targets, supported a community garden project in a near-by village and generally survived the wind, rain and midgies. Here’s an account of some of the actions that took place:

Mainshill open caset mine shut down for the day

Saturday 14th July was advertised as a mass action, and except for the eviction of the Mainshill Solidarity Camp in January 2010, was the largest action that has happened in the area. Over 45 people walked the couple of miles from the camp to Mainshill Open Cast Coal Site (formerly Mainshill Wood) and invaded the site, stopping all work for the day. The atmosphere was good, opencast workers got to have a cup of tea and constructive conversations were had. One thing’s for sure, and that’s that our common enemy is the Scottish Coal bosses.

Eventually the Chief Inspector showed up and threw his weight around making everyone leave, but by then the consented time for operations at the site was nearly over so the opencast workers left as we did. This certainly gave us confidence and energy for the week ahead

Broken cross site blockaded

This wasn’t actually the action we’d intended to do – we wanted to close down the Ravenstruther Coal Rail Terminal, a costly and effective action as most of the coal taken out of the valley has to go through this terminal. It’s an action that has happened 5 times already in the past, but that morning it was already blockaded by Strathclyde police. In the past the police have certainly done unreasonable things in the area, but for the entire week we camped at Glentaggart East the police acted as Scottish Coal’s private security guards, doing anything they could to protect the profits of the mining company.

With Ravenstruther already blockaded we turned around and went to the only entrance to Broken Cross Open Cast Coal Site, the largest mine in the area, and stopped HGVs from getting in to take the coal away to Ravenstruther (to end up down south at Drax Coal-Fired Power Station). Strangely enough the police didn’t anticipate us doing this – even though they followed us everywhere they weren’t able to stop the lock-on, but were very upset about it!

The blockade lasted for over an hour and a half before Inspector Whip, possibly the most unreasonable cop in the central belt of Scotland, oversaw around 30 Scottish Coal workers lifting the three blockaders and their concrete lock-on tubes out of the road and onto the verge, kept out of site by police vehicles parked in the way. Now, we’re pretty sure that they broke just about every rule in the(ir) book, and it was an incredibly dangerous thing to do.

Three people were eventually arrested and then released from Lanark Sheriff Court the next day, charged with a breach of the peace.

Lord Humes garden open casted

We said that the camp would target aristocrat landlords – in the past his garden has been invaded for frisbee games and he’s had car tyres let down during dinner parties – but this time his manicured lawn was dug up to bring the issues closer to home. As if the injustices in the Douglas Valley weren’t blatant enough with the corporate control, collusion between the mining company and local council, health and all the other impacts of opencast coal, most of the land in the valley is owned by a wealthy aristocrat. In fact, he’s a caricature of himself – he’s the son of former Tory prime minister Alec Home, went to Eton and Oxford University, is chairperson of Coutts Bank and of course, is a hereditary peer sitting in the house of lords. Lord Home is all about the money and will be getting millions for leasing his land to Scottish Coal for Mainshill and Glentaggart East.

Will he listen to the community though? Of course not! He really lives in London and only visits Douglasdale and his mansion to go shooting in the summer so probably isn’t even aware of what the impacts of opencast are on local people. To remind him of some of these impacts around 20 people set about with spades and shovels to dig up his lawn, making as much of a mess as possible!

Support for Community Garden

Throughout the camp we provided bodies and support for Glespin’s fledgling community garden, a community growing project aiming to inject some energy and colour back into the village. Glespin has lived next to an opencast mine for 12 years and is set to get a brand new one at Glentaggart East. At no point has the village benefited from opencast, but it has certainly suffered from noise, dust and massive HGVs speeding through the middle of it.

Earth First Summer Gathering Report

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Earth first is a loose network of people, groups and campaigns who come together for ecological direct action. The summer gathering is organised by volunteers and is the place where people involved in radical ecological direct action – or those who want to be involved – get together for five days of time and space to talk, walk, share skills, learn, play, rant, find out what’s going on, find out what’s next, live outside, strategise, hang out, incite, laugh and conspire. The gathering is run without leaders, by everyone who comes along. The gathering is also a practical example of low-impact eco-living and non-hierarchical organising. EF! is about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth. It’s about doing it yourself rather than relying on leaders, governments or industry. Direct action is at the heart of it, whether you’re standing in front of a bulldozer, shutting down an open-cast mine or ripping up a field of GM crops.

There is always a wide variety of workshops running and this years timetable included:

Corporate watch

Men dealing with their patriarchal ‘shit’

Stop G4S

Stop workfare

Challenging everyday patriarchy



Traveller solidarity

How to set up a workers co-op



Facilitating better meetings


Smash EDO

Planning an effective campaign

Working with communities

Planning a gathering

Youth led projects

Woman’s self defence

Squat electrics

Solidarity with farmers in Palestine

Indian head massage

Extreme energy

How to research corporations

How to rekey for actions

How to set up a housing co-op

History of the luddites

The deportation machine

Anti-fascist network

Anarco feminism

Navigation for beginners

Anarchy in the UK

EF had a great selection of vegan beers and cider and the bar opened at 7 each night. Thursday night there was films showing in the solar powered cinema tent, Friday night was open mic (not up to standards of previous years but still entertaining), Saturday night was ceidgh time, this provided much merriment.

The next EF gathering is the ‘wintermoot’ and hopefully this will be in Lancashire held in an area facing the threat of being Fracked by Caudrilla Resourses. This will just be a weekend and there’ll be far less workshops, but it’ll be a great event to meet likeminded people and have a few beers. Lancashire is very close to Cumbria so I look forward to seeing some of you there ;)

Climate Siren

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

We are calling for a great effort of civil disobedience in the UK this June 2012.

We are calling for this great effort of civil disobedience in order to demand urgent, concerted and meaningful action to tackle the unprecedented national and global emergency presented by the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate.

We have been watching with quiet anger and deep despair the relentless approach of an unprecedented tragedy.

Since the path of human history is so littered with pain, cruelty, catastrophe and tragic folly it is hard to imagine something yet more unspeakably vast in the sheer scale of human anguish that it will encompass. Yet we can see the spectre of such a monumental tragedy approaching with a clarity that increases almost as fast as the time we have left to prevent it slips away.

No amount of wishful thinking or double talk can obscure the fact that the science is brutally clear. Without a radical change of course we will see the deaths of billions of the world’s population before the century is out. It will simply be the biggest catastrophe ever in human history. Given the course we’re currently on, any outcome less calamitous is now clearly unrealistic even if the precise nature and ultimate scale of this oncoming catastrophe is impossible to predict.

Many have already quietly lost hope. Others push the truth away or hide from it within the concerns of day to day. Others believe or pretend to believe that a certain level of tinkering with the problem will suffice for a solution.

Whilst we respect, commend and encourage every effort taken to tackle this desperate crisis the simple truth is that nothing that is being done now, at a national or international level, approaches the scale of response that is urgently required to stem the tide of tragedy.

Worse, the whole debate and public perception, even as shaped by the more sympathetic media and the messaging of NGOs, is skewed towards and defined by the political realities surrounding our painfully inadequate level of response. This is not to mention the motley band of fools and knaves who deny – to various and shifting degrees – the whole thing and the dark sinister power of the blindly rapacious vested interests that stand behind them, although they, of course, are also a big factor in exacerbating the situation. The result in any case is a false perception about the true scale of the crisis. The simple clear message that we need to mobilise the whole of society for a massive urgent effort shaped by the science and not wishful thinking or vested interests, and on a scale of a kind unprecedented outside of wartime, is obscured by the constant hum of superficial debate about what amounts to no more than the grossly inadequate versus the marginally less grossly inadequate in our level of response.

We respect that societies need a common code and laws to work by. We will do no harm to person and nor do we intend any gratuitous harm even to property. But there have always been values and goals that have transcended the laws that society makes – as so many struggles for suffrage, for self-determination, for justice and equality have shown in the past.

We are calling for a great level of civil disobedience as a clarion call for urgency that will break the paralysing spell of apathy, creeping despair, ignorance, myopia and self-deluding make-believe. If there ever was a time when such an effort is needed it is now. If there ever was a time when such an effort was justified it is now.

Even if we fail in what has become an almost superhuman task, to achieve the ultimate goal of turning the tide of tragedy it will be important that we made this great effort and did not stand idle, just watching it happen. And given the stakes are so high even the slimmest chance of prevailing makes failing to make the effort seem unforgivable.

We can’t make this great effort of civil disobedience happen on our own, but we want to help you make it happen.

We are calling initially for a big effort in June 2012 at the time of the Rio Earth Summit, if you and enough others are willing to make it happen. We have no time to lose.
Email Us

You can make a start by sending your email to us at This will allow us to keep in contact with you, as well as giving us an idea of potential numbers. We may ask for your mobile phone number later.

The nature of what we are planning means that we have to keep it secret, as you will readily understand, but in the end it will be your decision as to whether it is a valid action you will want to be a part of, or not.

Please, let’s make it happen: send us your email.

please mirror this site

Tar Sands and the FQD – and now: Serbian oil shale threats

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Excellent news: 18th January Obama rejected TransCanada’s application for the Keystone XL pipeline (for connecting the Alberta Tar Sands with the Mexican Gulf for export of tar sands fuel worldwide including to UK and the EU). But the US State Department said this does not preclude a re-application with a different route (to avoid the Ogallala aquifer). Obama stated that “The rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment”. TransCanada announced they will re-apply. Let’s hope we don’t get a Republican President elected in November – as their climate denying or sceptic candidates support the KXL and most Republican Congressmen have been ‘bought’ by Big Oil such as by the infamous Koch Brothers (Tea Party funders & founders). Assessment by The UK Tar Sands Network.

Also – Canadian First Nations are making an effective united stand against the proposed pipeline from the Tar Sands towards the Pacific (and thus China).

The FQD: EU member states are meeting on 23rd February towards a vote on the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) – legislation that would strongly discourage tar sands fuel from entering the UK and EU. I say ‘towards’ – as we are unclear whether the vote might again be delayed – not just by Norman Baker’s alternative methodology – but now by another alternative proposal – this time by the Netherlands (home of Royal Dutch Shell) – as another spanner in the works to derail the FQD.

More good news: Tim Farron has met Simon Hughes (former LibDem shadow for Env & CC) on the FQD and tar sands and has decided “to bid for a question to the Secretary of State on this issue at the next session of Energy and Climate Change questions in the House of Commons” and discuss it with Norman Baker. Unfortunately I have learnt that many LibDem MPs and the GreenLibDem tweeter still find it hard to believe that Norman Baker could work to scupper the FQD. I will now have to try and persuade the GreenLibDems that his actions threaten the FQD – at least by unacceptable delay, and in December I wrote a critical assessment of Norman Baker’s statements which has been emailed to LibDems. We would like the GreenLibDems to support Tim Farron and Chris Davies MEP on this matter.

If you have a spare moment do email Tim Farron that you are very pleased he has decided to pursue this matter (and for signing the moratorium on fracking EDM).

One point I am emphasizing is the urgency for the FQD to be implemented before investment decisions (and pipeline permits) for high-carbon unconventional oil infrastructure are made – which are largely export dependent and thus influence-able by an effective FQD.

A recent new example of this urgency is that “by 2012” the Serbian Government is announcing “corporate players” interested in entering the race to extract shale oil from Serbia. Shale oil life-cycle emissions are 50% higher than for conventional oil according to the EU Commissioner’s proposal for the FQD – which Norman Baker is delaying. Also – the extraction process is highly destructive and polluting.

For more info on these subjects see – which also links to the UK Tar Sands website and tweets.

Fracking good news and Climate denialism

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Fracking – good news

Tim Farron wrote (24jan12) that he has signed EDM 2292 “HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (FRACKING) (No. 2)” for a moratorium to be placed on this environmentally risky process at least until a detailed EIA has been published
Well done to all those who wrote or visited MPs in response to e.g. ‘The Take Fracking Action!’ in SLACC’s November Newsletter.
44 MPs have signed so far (27jan12) – but not a single Conservative (what does that tell you?!).

On 24th January’s BBC Radio4’s Today programme there was a c.7minute debate on shale gas exploitation and climate change between Tony Juniper and climate change denialist Lord Nigel Lawson in which Juniper gave a strong case and Lawson … well – judge for yourself: 2:42 to c.2:49 in….

This might urge you to sign and tweet this petition to tell pro-fracking Lawson’s climate sceptic thinktank ‘The Global Warming Policy Foundation’ to disclose its funders: This backs an FoI request by leading climate scientists for this information which hopefully went before a judge today (27th): Lawson and his GWPF are favoured climate writers by the Daily Mail, and you probably agree that Lawson gets too much climate airtime on BBC!

More on

New year, new projects – and what really happens at a HUB meeting

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Our first meeting of the year went all too quickly – so much to discuss and so many projects to organise. We kicked off with brief updates on our bids for funds. We moved on to current activities – volunteer project leaders explained the plans and what help would be needed and then set up their “stalls” to talk to small groups. We then moved round the room, finding out more about each project and working out how which ones fitted best with our own skills and interests. There are still some gaps to fill so please do sign up to do one small thing to join in and/or help.

The really high turnout meant we had plenty of participants for three discussion groups. Led by volunteers, we looked at the implications for SLACCtt of:
the nuclear approach put forward by George Monbiot (see for the article that sparked the debate); ….
The sustainable Brampton Household survey (see; and
how can we manage, analyse and make use of all the information that we are bombarded with from all directions?

Energy levels still high, we moved around and chose a different debate topic, adding to the comments/feedback of the earlier participants.

A few minutes for members to update us on other plans and invitations and the hall’s closing time was upon us. Discussions were still going on outside as we cleared up the room and made our exit.

Our conclusions?
The nuclear debate was fascinating. John summed it up as follows: “ Not many years ago, there would not have been a single pro-nuclear voice in a green movement. Last night I judged it was almost an even split – on the one hand, fears about nuclear accidents and the nuclear waste legacy; on the other hand, fears about irreversible climate change. Choosing which is the lesser evil between two planet-threatening options is not easy… It was also good to hear (SLACCtt member) Fiona talk with obvious authority about the pitfalls in George Monbiot’s approach. People wanted to hear the two of them debate the subject, so they could balance the arguments themselves. Fascinating stuff. We need to surface more of the experts lurking in the SLACCtt membership.”

Who knows – could we tempt George M to Cumbria for a public debate?

The Brampton debate focused on how useful it would be to follow this approach in South Lakes.
- Worth it for the baseline data but then needs to be on-going to be really useful
- Option of smaller surveys e.g. of traffic to measure specific impacts
- Quite a lot of work – option of recruiting a University student to complete this
- Government statistics are available for e.g South Lakeland that might be relevant
On the other hand:
- Issue of a small number of `anomalies` massively influencing the overall results
- Issue of how much of real costs, carbon component, etc can be captured in this way.

We also asked ourselves:
- Is this sort of data the best way to promote real change?
- Would our time, energy, money be better spent on interviewing people to discover what they see would make them change (rather than what we think would…!)
- And we concluded we should find out more – particularly the value of focus groups amongst peers/community groups discussing what changes have benefited them and why (viz CRAGS ) and then share outcomes publicly.

And finally, the information management debate – we’ve 3 pages of suggestions on information management and we’re focussing in on how we can use our website as a resource share knowledge e.g. with reviews of articles/books – maybe with a “members only” section of the site. The idea of a “green book club” gained support as did revitalising “green drinks”. And we’d love to know more about our members’ knowledge and skills so that we can help each other.

Thanks to all for your contributions and in particular to Chris, Karen and John for leading discussions and to Fiona for her invaluable input to the “nuclear” debate. (Thanks to Jo for facilitating, and writing this post.)

Ban Tar Sands

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

URGENT! On 2nd December EU member states meet to vote on whether to implement what will effectively be a ban on the import of very high emissions fuels (such as from The Tar Sands) into the EU. However – the UK government wants this implementation (of the Fuel Quality Directive) blocked or delayed until the imports have become a fixed reality or ‘locked in’ (as the IEA’s Birol puts it). It will only take you about 5 minutes or so to ‘sign’ and ‘send’ the template email provided by People & Planet to go to Minister Norman Baker to urge him against this folly:

CO2 emissions in extracting oil from the Tar Sands in Alberta are an incredible 4.9 times higher than from conventional sources, making the whole ‘life-cycle emissions’ (‘wells to wheels’ including combustion) as 23% higher (source: EU commissioned peer-reviewed report by Adam Brandt). We must keep this dirty fuel out of Europe! If you have more time – please email Tim Farron or even tweet him (@timfarron) to urge Norman Baker (LibDem) not to obstruct the Fuel Quality Directive.

Would you like to make Kendal a Tar Free Town? Click here to find out more:

Do also have a look at ‘Kendal’s’ Tar Sands website: – includes amusing animation!

Camp Frack

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Camp Frack, for me, began on Friday morning; I got a lorry stuck in the mud; shifted what felt like hundreds of tables and chairs; tried to put up marquees which were missing guy ropes and central beams and all in the pouring rain. But at least I hadn’t spent the previous day and night driving around the country to collect all this stuff like some fellow ‘slaccers’ had! But Camp Frack was worth this effort a hundred times over – easily. Fracking releases methane (25 times more damaging than C02), poisons water supplies, pollutes the air causing respiratory problems and has been linked to earthquakes. There is no place for it in the ‘energy mix’.

Like many people I hadn’t heard of fracking until relatively recently. Not really a surprise considering even people living within a couple of miles radius of a Fracking test site (owned by Cuadrilla Resources) knew nothing about it either until a massive drilling rig appeared. There was a notice from the planning department, just one I think, it was placed on a telegraph pole (field side not road side) halfway up a private road.

So I went to Camp Frack to learn more about this extreme form of energy; show support for local people opposing it and network with others to build a strong, effective campaign. I think anyone that was there would say the weekend was a complete success; I definitely achieved my aims.

Camp Frack was a very well thought out event; Saturday morning consisted of a welcome meeting first thing then a variety of workshops ran till mid-afternoon. There were workshops on Fracking, films, introduction to direct action; using social networking sites for campaigning, banner making; the list goes on… Late afternoon was the highlight for me; there was a meeting which saw Camp Frack split into three groups to look at a national campaign against fracking, local campaigns and direct action. This felt really smart; good co-ordinated strategic work! The smaller groups had over an hour together before re-joining as a whole and feeding back. Obviously I can’t reveal the ins and outs of these meetings, but I can tell you that I don’t think the fracking industry stands a chance against us!

To keep the momentum from these discussions, lots of working groups were set up and arranged to re-convene the following day to create some plans of action. But the main focus on Sunday was the protest march. Numerous banners were created to show Cuadrilla what we thought of them; one of the biggest at 8 metres by 1.5 metres and probably the least subtle simply read: ‘Frack Off’. The March set off straight after lunch and local campaign group REAF (Ribble Esturary Against Fracking) led the way. There was much enthusiastic chanting, one young woman on the megaphone had us all shouting (with as much attitude as gangsta rappers) ‘Cuadrilla, Mark Miller, toxic water spiller (Mark Miller is CEO of Cuadrilla).

It was a shame we couldn’t go right up to the drilling rigg, but as there is no public right of way and the general feeling was to stay on the right side of the law (for now at least) we settled for stopping half a mile from the rigg. The rig is surrounded by flat agricultural land so the press could still get their shots, 150 beautiful protestors in the foreground, ugly drilling rig placed undemocratically in the background. On the walk back to camp it was great to see most of the stationary cars winding down their windows to take some information on fracking, that made the demo even more worthwhile. We returned to camp to be fed (as we had been all weekend) by the 1 in 12 club from Leeds; my impression of them was great vegan food, lovely smiles and very hardworking!

And this brings us abruptly to the end of Camp Frack. After a short but productive two days, tat down began. Cobbled together marquees are a lot easier to take down than they are to put up; there were many people that stayed around to help carry the ‘hundreds’ of tables and chairs, the sun shone and our lorry went nowhere near the soggy grass.

In the days that followed Camp Frack Cuadrilla Resources have been on the PR offensive. They are looking for investment and have announced they want to drill 400 – 800 wells in the UK. I say, louder than ever, Frack off!

Further information on fracking can be found at:

South Lakes Cycle Challenge Awards

Thursday, July 28th, 2011


Well done to all 228 people who  took part in the 2011 South Lakes Cycle Challenge. Nearly 52,000 miles were cycled in the 6 week period with 28,000 of those miles for commuting. Almost 8000Kg’s of CO2 were saved by making those trips by bike.

Thanks to Tim Farron MP for presenting the pries yesterday in a ceremony on the Brewery Arts Centre steps.

 Winner of the New or returning cyclist category: Maxine Allison from Designworks with 51 trips by bike. 2nd place Dave Howard, 3rd Jon Robinson.

Winner of the team with the highest mileage: The Lakes School with 3613 miles in total. 2nd Fleet Fox’s – LDNP, 3rd Team C -Croppers.

The Lakes School team reps collect thier prizes

Winner of the Large Organisation with the Highest Mileage overall: The Lake District National Park.

Winner of the Large Organisation with the highest mileage per emlpoyee: Wheelbase with 118 miles per employee. 2nd Brathay Trust, 3rd The Lakes School.

Winner of the Small Organisation with the highest mileage and the highest mileage per employee: the Body Rehab with 450 miles per employee. 2nd Designworks, 3rd Seeds for Change Lancaster.

Winner of the team with the most trips by bike: ICT -LDNP with 317 trips. 2nd TWP Wheelers, 3rd Miles -LDNP

Thanks to all who participated and thanks to organiser and SLACC Transport Group convenor Liz Ashburn, Cumbria County Council, Awards for All, the LDNP SDF. Thanks to the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding Company, the Royalty Cinema in Bowness, Rory from Designworks and Wheelbase for donating prizes. Thanks to Designworks for thier work on the website and the Brewery for hosting the awards.

Keep cycling!

New supermarket threat to Ulverston

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Keep Ulverston Special Campaign
- instigated by a number of local people, local businesses and councillors
This campaign has been started because Robinsons, who own the Brewery site (just off the roundabout as you come into Ulverston) have put in planning permission to South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) to build a 25,000 square feet supermarket with an underpass to an underground car park raising the existing road by 2 metres.
The campaign has got off to a flying start. A lively public meeting was held last Thursday which was full (around 400 people) at which Robinsons explained how they wanted to enhance Ulverston and that the footfall to the town would be increased. Someone in the audience pointed out that the research which gave them that information was commissioned by Tesco !
We have a petition for people to sign to oppose the plan (over 300 signatures so far) and we are urging people to write to the planning officer Kate Lawson, South Lakeland District Council, South Lakeland House Lowther St Kendal LA9 4DL.In the Autumn we have further plans with a poster campaign in the local shops leading up to the point at which SLDC will vote on the planning application.
For those of you who live in Kendal or the surrounding area a letter to the planning officer would be invaluable since there are only 6 councillors representing Ulverston and other councillors may be convinced by the principle of keeping Ulverston a market town full of thriving independent shops with the money staying in the town.
You may also consider writing to your own SLDC councillor who will have a vote.
Lastly, some of us have considered boycotting Robinsons beer until they drop the proposal – there may be more on this in the future depending on how the campaign is going.
If anyone has creative ideas as to how to grab the attention of North-West TV since Robinsons brewery is based in Stockport, Greater Manchester please let me know

(Article contributed by Judy Filmore, Ulverston Green Party)