Rooftop-Climbing XR Activists Speak Out |
More than sixty protesters entered the site on Sunday, with six activists scaling buildings and occupying the mine until the next morning.
Six arrests were made by South Wales Police in the early hours of Monday morning, including a 94-year-old man. Two rooftop protesters spoke to voice.wales after being shot by the police.
Extinction Rebellion opposes the new mine, which is expected to emit 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Campaigners have accused the Welsh government of hypocrisy for failing to stop the mine while pledging to tackle climate change.
By Mark S. Redfern. image copyrightvoice.wales
Activists across Britain took part in Extinction Rebellion’s biggest ever action in Wales last weekend, expanding and occupying mining infrastructure overnight at the Aberpergwm mine.
The mine, near Glynneath in Neath Port Talbot, has been the scene of major controversy over the reopening of coal production in Wales as the Welsh Government promises to make efforts to stop climate change.
Cat, 53, is an educator from Port Talbot. She scaled the roof with her fellow XR activists at 4.30pm on Sunday and spent 6pm occupying the offices of the Aberpergwm mine.
She was driven to take drastic action out of fear for the planet her 19-year-old daughter would inherit if the climate catastrophe was not stopped: “It was uncomfortable and cold, believe it or not. But we don’t do it for convenience, it’s not supposed to be easy.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cymru helped force the Welsh government to declare a climate emergency in 2019, but since then the group says the Welsh Labor Administration was slow to act and said the license extension would blast their goal of reaching net zero by 2050
In May, it was revealed that Welsh Government ministers had repeatedly refused to oppose a new coal mine extension which would allow up to 40million tonnes of coal to be mined by 2039 If burned, coal from the new Aberpergwm mine would be expected to release around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (5.5 million tonnes per year), destroying the Welsh Government’s net zero target.
Cat continued: “The reason we did this action was to get some attention. [to the climate emergency].”
“It’s the only way to get attention. I spent thirty years with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF, I wrote emails, I participated in walks, collected raffle tickets to support causes. I was 51 when I was first arrested. I spent fifty years as a law-abiding, working-class single mother in Wales.
XR Cymru said more than sixty protesters entered the site on Sunday afternoon, many of whom left of their own accord later that evening. The protest group had previously targeted the mine in March with a similar action.
Six activists were arrested in the early hours of Monday morning and among those handcuffed was a 94-year-old man, released later that morning. When XR Cymru spoke to voice.wales they stressed that criminal damage was not part of their direct action strategy and that the militants had no intention of destroying mining infrastructure during their occupation.
At 10 a.m. Monday morning, two people in white hazmat suits were escorted off the mining conveyor belts and into the back of police vans. Four activists were lowered from the roof of an office building via a cherry picker soon after but were not arrested, Cat and fellow activist Lucy among them.
Lucy, 47, is a teacher from Yorkshire. “There are birds falling from the sky in Spain. It was 42°C in Portugal at 9 p.m. [on Saturday 9 July], and that’s not normal heat for the UK, is it? It will be 36°c next week.
“It was a little uncomfortable…but it was fine,” she said of the occupation. “We were in good company. It’s not something we wanted to do, I’d much rather be on the beach there than in a dusty coal mine with lots of angry miners. I’m really sad that the miners thought this was some kind of personal attack on them and their work. It is by no means that.”
“It is the government that is not providing the money and the resources necessary for the transition to bring new [green] jobs that can give us a secure future. Damn it. »
Lucy added: “It’s just really crap. Before I liked to camp and walk and climb, and now when I camp it’s on the damn roof of a coal mine.
XR said in a press release about Sunday’s action: “To date the Welsh and UK governments have pointed fingers at each other, without taking responsibility or trying to resolve the issue between them about who has the power. to intervene.”
Cat is the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner and said the action has a personal impact: “I have seen the effect it has had on our family. He knew the mine was going to lead him one way or another, but he sacrificed his life to feed his wife and ten surviving children. He did this for the love of his children, but if he knew what we know today, there would be no way he was going down the mine.
“Mining is the most dangerous occupation, even more dangerous than police and fire for workplace fatalities, but these are the secondary fatalities from skin cancers, asbestos and chemicals. ..more generations of Welsh have to sacrifice their health for someone else’s wealth.”
“I think especially in this area where industrialization has robbed so many families of their health and their fathers, we deserve a green transition for workers.”