In the early hours of this morning, Greenpeace activists boarded a freighter bound for Kingsnorth power station, and have prevented the unloading of 20,000 tonnes of coal. Jeremy Williams spoke to Sarah Shoraka, on top of the mast at the time:
Jeremy: Describe the scene for us there…
Sarah: We’re at the top of a ten metre mast at the front of a big coal ship owned by EON, and it’s quite noisy as there’s a big flag saying ‘quit coal’ next to me. I can see Kingsnorth power station directly to my left. We’ve been here all day, and last night, and we’ve actually stopped them offloading the coal into the power station and being burnt, which is what we set out to do. At the moment there’s three other activists with me. We did have more on the ship, but they have been arrested, and we’re the last four here.
Jeremy: How long do you reckon you’ve got before the police talk you down?
Sarah: They’re not going to talk us down! We’re quite determined. We’ve got quite a lot of food and water and we’re going to stay here as long as we can, and we know that while we’re here, the police have said that EON shouldn’t offload the coal. Obviously it’s about coal here today, and the fact that it shouldn’t be burned, but the wider point we’re making is that there shouldn’t be a new coal power station here at the Kingsnorth site. It’s also about burning coal in the future, and stopping climate change.
Jeremy: For those who might not know about it, why Kingsnorth in particular?
Sarah: The government and EON, the power company, plan to build a new power station here. It’s the first new coal power station in this country for about thirty years, certainly in my lifetime, and it would be the dirtiest power station to go up in the UK in decades. The government in the UK claim to be progressive on climate change. They talk a big talk, but when it comes to the facts on the ground, it turns out they want to build new power stations burning the dirtiest fuel possible. Kingsnorth has become something of a symbol really, for rhetoric versus reality with the Brown government. We’re drawing a line in the sand, and saying we won’t allow any new coal power station to be built in this country, otherwise we won’t have a hope in hell of stopping climate change.
Jeremy: Tell us a bit about how you got onto the boat in the first place.
Sarah: We came up alongside on inflatable boats, and then we put up ladders and climbed up onto the ship. Myself and three other activists climbed up a ladder to where we are now, but we had others on the funnel, and some swimmers in the water in front of the ship.
Jeremy: That sounds dangerous!
Sarah: We’re quite used to doing this sort of thing, non-violent direct action, and safety is a priority – not just for the activists but for the crew as well. We have a really good safety record actually. People often ask if its dangerous, but you’ve got to think about it in the bigger context. Three hundred thousand people are dying every year from climate change, and those are the ones who are really going to suffer. We’ve done everything we can to make a serious point here, and nobody has been hurt, but people are going to be hurt by climate change.
Jeremy: And what are your hopes for the rest of the day?
Sarah: Maybe a bit of sleep? No seriously, we’re quite determined to stay here. We’ve got supplies and what we really want is to stop the coal from being unloaded. We also hope that the government and EON prick up their ears and start listening, not just to us but to the thousands of people who don’t want a new power station here.
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