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Eco-protestors warn: 'We will be back'

PUBLISHED: 15:05 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 23 August 2010

PROTESTORS from the Climate Camp are warning residents in north Kent they face a similar battle as plans for SEVEN coal-fired power stations are revealed. Hundreds of eco-campaigners fear plans to transform Kingsnorth station is a test case to create m

PROTESTORS from the Climate Camp are warning residents in north Kent they face a similar battle as plans for SEVEN coal-fired power stations are revealed.

Hundreds of eco-campaigners fear plans to transform Kingsnorth station is a 'test case' to create more, including one across the river in Tilbury.

The stark warning was issued as about 1,500 protested descended on the station on the Hoo Peninsular to protest against energy group E.on's plans to build Britain's first new coal-fired plant for 30 years.

It was the culmination of a 12-day protest in which campaigners have camped at a site near to the power station. The new power station will emit 8.4million of CO2 per year.

James Willis, Dartford and Gravesend Liberal Democrats spokesperson, said: "If this one goes forward then it's going to be a lot easier for them to build other ones.

"This one is like a test case. So we need to protest and make it clear that this sort of power station is unacceptable in order to stop the plans going ahead for further stations like the one in Tilbury. This will be devastating for the people of Dartford and Gravesend and this is why the Kingsnorth protest is so vitally important.

"Coal is now being sold as a clean technology. This is clearly not true as the technology is not yet commercially available. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels and affects the high rate of asthma in the surrounding areas, Medway has 3rd highest in the UK.

"I urge the Labour Government to reconsider profit hungry dirty coal schemes such as the plan put forward at nearby Tilbury power station. Instead they should look at making the south east and Thames gateway area in particular a showcase for renewable energy such as sun and combined heat and power plants."

Student Adam Jarvis, 17, of Lower Rochester Road, Higham, joined the campaigners on the march.

He said: "We are studying politics at school so I like to follow events like this. I have done quite a lot of reading on it and I'm totally against it. I don't see that it's necessary to build another coal power station.

"If this goes ahead and they go on to build a station in Tilbury it will make the situation even worse. The area around the power station has one of the highest cases of asthma and it can't be good breathing in all of the pollution that comes out of there."

Roger Harris, 72, of Bronte View, Gravesend, also attended the protest.

He said: "I'm interested in animal welfare and I think theses people have the same goals. Climate change is an important issue and it's good to see there's a lot of support. At last this is sending a clear message to them that it is not going to be easy to get it through."

The bulk of the protesters formed a colourful procession and made the three-mile march from the camp site to the plant to the sound of tribal drums and chants of 'Say no to dirty power' and 'No new coal'.

At around 1.30pm police moved in with riot gear and asked the campaigners to move on. While most of the protesters cleared out of the area a group of around 20 hardcore protesters refused to move and sat defiantly in front of the gate singing songs.

After being given several warnings by police the members of the group were all carried away and arrested.

A total of 1,400 officers from 26 forces across the country were on site to ensure that no laws were broken. Over 100 were arrested, with 46 so far charged with a variety of offences.

Elsewhere the three-pronged 'land, sea and air' attack organised by activists failed to shut down the power station as planned. Four protestors who breached the inner fence of the site were quickly arrested by police officers with dogs. Nineteen others were escorted away for breaching the outer wall.

The only serious skirmishes came when a group of around 70 people were pushed back by police using batons as they tried to enter a cornfield next to the plant.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: "While most people involved in the protest were sensible and responsible, a small group was clearly intent on breaking into the power station at all sites. Our policy was that our policing was proportionate to the need."

RWE npower, the owners of Tilbury Power Station, have created outline plans to build a £1 billion replacement coal-fired station at the site which they aim to have fully operational by 2013.

A spokesperson for RWE said: "We are looking at the studies at the moment to see whether or not it is the right place to build a new coal-fired station. Closing an older coal-fired station and replacing it with a newer cleaner one will reduce the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. We will be making a decision before the end of the year."

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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