Police arrest 29 coal train protesters

LONDON (Reuters) - Police have arrested 29 environmental protesters who occupied a train carrying coal to the nation’s biggest coal fired power station, British Transport Police (BTP) said on Saturday.

Disguised as railway workers in yellow warning jackets and waving red flags, 40 Camp for Climate Action protesters stopped the train on Friday at Snaith, just south of the Drax plant in Selby, North Yorkshire.

“The last person was removed from the train shortly after midnight,” said British Transport Police in a statement.

Drax supplies 7 percent of the UK’s electricity mostly from burning coal, and as a result is one of Europe’s top five sources of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), at 4 percent of Britain’s total emissions.

The environmental campaigners used an iron girder bridge and climbing equipment to scale the 12ft high truck.

“This was a complex operation as many of those arrested had to be cut free having attached themselves to rail vehicles and the overbridge,” the BTP statement added.

“All were removed in safety and there have been no reported injuries amongst the police personnel involved in the operation.

“All 29, who are mainly from London and the south east and from Manchester, are in custody and will be interviewed during the course of the day.”

After occupying the train the campaigners displayed a huge “Leave it in the ground” banner, a reference to the coal destined for the power station’s furnaces, before shovelling coal on to the track.

The protesters had hoped to stay on the train for several days and had with them food and water as well as a portable lavatory.

“In terms of coal supply we take around 20 trains a day, so there was a disruption of the supply of coal by train, but there no disruption to our operations, it was business as usual,” a Drax spokeswoman told Reuters.

Those arrested could face possible charges of conspiracy to obstruct trains, obstructing trains and railway trespass.

Two years ago 38 people were arrested, many for possession of weapons or criminal damage, after 600 environmental campaigners held a protest at Drax.

The Camp for Climate Action group plans to stage a protest on August 9 at Kingsnorth in Kent, where German utility E.ON has put forward plans for Britain’s first new coal-fired power station for around 30 years.

Reporting by John Joseph