Environmental protest takes many forms and is as often defined by local culture as by the nature of the problem. This week’s round-up looks at how three different locations have been involved in very different forms of protest.
In County Mayo, Ireland, between 12 and 15 masked men used iron bars and a digger to damage a Royal Dutch Shell installation. The Corrib Natural Gas Field is the focus of environmental protests because the pipeline being laid between the offshore gas field and the mainland is considered a pollution risk by the local, predominantly agricultural, community.
One protester, who had been removed by security guards, was taken to hospital and the protest group Shell to Sea has said that he was beaten by masked men (ie masked men who weren’t part of his protest group, it’s a complicated scenario!) after he refused to come out from under a lorry, halting work on the site in County Mayo. Police say that the masked intruders used a digger that was already on the site to tear down fences before making their escape, and that one of the security staff was injured and needed medical attention to his arm. Local people want Shell to process the gas on an offshore platform rather than using a pipeline to bring it on land, as they fear the gas pipeline may pollute local water supplies. It’s worth noting that masked men toting various weapons have been a feature of Irish life for decades until the recent power-sharing agreement.
Protest picnic in airport
On 25 April, more than sixty climate campaigners ate their lunch in the check-in hall at Leeds Bradford Airport. Their picnic was a protest at the planned £28 million two-storey extension to the terminal building which they say will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Protesters ate cucumber sandwiches and gingerbread aeroplanes and said theirs was ‘… a very civil way to protest’ In reply, the airport authority claims it will ‘… improve and refine …method[s] of monitoring air quality in line with EU requirements and industry standards’.
Ten years of protest end in success
And in the Peak District, one of the most remote and beautiful areas of England, one of the longest-running European environmental protest camps disappeared after nearly a decade. The fifty tree houses, tents and mobile homes, in company with a maze of underground tunnels, had been set up at Stanton Moor in the Peak District National Park in 1999. The environmental protestors were worried about quarrying operations at Endcliffe which is a wildlife area as well as being close to a Bronze Age monument: Nine Ladies Stone Circle. The camp was supported by the National Park authority which had raised concerns about the potential impact of quarrying within the park and in September 2007 the quarry operators reached agreement with the protestors: they gave up their planning permission in exchange for a quarry extension at a less sensitive quarry site. It has taken nearly two years to safely dismantle the camp but last week, National Park planning officers, police and environmental health officers, confirmed that the clearance was complete. The protesters say that the support of the National Park allowed them to maintain their camp and their morale during nearly a decade of squatting in the camp.