15.03.2012 16:18 | Anti-Nuclear
Around 1000 people converged on Hinkley Point in west Somerset on the weekend of 10th-11th March 2012 to mark one year since the earthquake, tsunami and start of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, and to demand that the UK abandon its plans for new nuclear power stations at Hinkley and up to seven other sites in England and Wales. The weekend involved a rally and 'surround the power station' action, followed by a 24-hour blockade of the entrance to the existing power station. People came from all over England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Taiwan; and, notably, a number of individuals from Japan took part, including a pair of Fukushima evacuees and a Buddhist monk and nun. Speakers included Green party leader Caroline Lucas MP; environmentalist Jonathon Porritt; Kate Hudson, General Secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Steve Mitchell from the French Nuclear Phase-Out Network; and local anti-nuclear activist Nikki Clark; with musical entertainment from Somerset-based activist folk band Seize the Day, and words of encouragement from the band's lead singer, Theo Simon, who had helped occupy the recently-evicted Langborough Barn.
Theo led demonstrators on a tour of the land EDF plans to begin clearing and excavating later this month. Allegedly inaccurate signs marking sections of the land as part of the Hinkley B nuclear licensed site were removed, with other signs being defaced, and double harris fencing around the recently-evicted Langborough Barn being torn down. Security for EDF tried to evict people parked and camping overnight in the designated car park, before eventually retreating after heated words with some of the organisers. Around 100 people stayed on for the blockade, with over 60 still in place by 9am on Sunday, and others joining later in the morning.
Shortly after 1pm on Sunday, the Buddhist monk and nun led a procession to the beach to float lanterns in memory of the many thousands of victims of the earthquake and tsunami, and present and future victims of fall-out from the triple meltdown at Fukushima. The blockade ended with a closing circle at 3pm. One man was arrested late on Sunday afternoon, after most people had left, for allegedly stealing a sign. This was the only known arrest over the course of the weekend, with police adopting a largely 'hands off' approach to the weekend's demonstrations.
Previous Hinkley Feature: Hinkley Blockaded: No More Nuclear Power! | On the Newswire: Fukushima 1 year on: Hinkley Point to be surrounded and blockaded | Successful anti-nuclear rally at Hinkley Point on Fukushima anniversary | Anti-nuclear activists claim double record at Hinkley Point demo | Hinkley Barnstormers need you!! | Hinkley C ~ Site Occupation | EDF Energy seeks high court injunction against protestors | Anti-nuclear protesters occupy Hinkley Point | Hinkley Point Barnstormers - Occupiers aim to stop EDF land trash | Farmhouse squatted to defend land from EDF Energy's bulldozers | Directions to the new camp at Hinkley Point power station | Troubled Over Bridgwater | Concerned Locals take to the Trees at Hinkley Point | Nuclear energy fat cats EDF Energy targeted for fuel poverty days of action | Fukushima: The Big Lie | Don't buy the lie: Say No to nuclear energy before it's too late
Audio: Ecoshock: Fukushima Disaster - One Year Later | From Nuclear Weapons to Nuclear Energy: The U.S., The Marshall Islands, and Japan
Occupation Videos (YouTube): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Photos (Picasaweb): 1 | 2 | 3 | SchNEWS: Barn Stormed | Barn Storming | A Bridgwater Too Far
Bristol IMC Articles: Barnstormers Released | Reclaim Hinkley Protestors Arrested | Reclaim Hinkley Eviction | Hinkley Barnstormers Eviction Imminent ! Help Needed ! | Hinkley barnstormers call for support | Hinkley Barn Squatters Imminent Eviction ! | Boycott EDF/Stop the development of HinkleyC nuclear power station | Hinkley Barnstormers need you!! | EDF puts the stain into sustainability | Nuclear Energy Company EDF seeks high court injunction against protesters | Hinkley Point Barn Occupied | Support the Anti-nuclear folk at Langborough Farm! | Activists needed to defend squatted farmhouse near nuclear power plant | Directions to the new camp at Hinkley Point power station | Hinkley Occupied Again | Hinkley Tree Protesters Evicted | Warm Socks v Hot Nukes-Tree Action Update | Concerned Locals take to the Trees at Hinkley Point near Bridgwater, Somerset
Photo: D. Viesnik / Stop New Nuclear
Largest anti-nuclear power action for decades
The rally was reported to be the largest in the UK against nuclear power for at least three decades and the 24-hour blockade that followed the 'surround' action was said to be the first ever of a nuclear power station in the UK. Stop New Nuclear issued a statement on 14 March thanking everyone who took part, with a round-up of media coverage and a call-out for support.
Other events in England and Wales
Fukushima remembrance events were also held in Heysham, Lancashire organised by Heysham Anti-Nuclear Alliance; in the Lake District in Cumbria, organised by href="https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/">Radiation Free Lakeland and on the island of Anglesey in north Wales by People Against Wylfa-B, where Horizon - a consortium of German energy giants E.ON and RWE Npower- plans to build a second nuclear power station and a local farmer is steadfastly holding out from selling his land to them. Mainstream media reports: [ 1 | 2 ]
Many thousands of people attended demonstrations and formed human chains in Japan, France, Germany and many other countries around the world to coincide with the anniversary. UK protests continue next month with the fourth annual Sizewell Camp against Nuclear New Build, and in remembrance of the victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine, due to take place in Suffolk, 20th-22nd April 2012.
Recent action at Hinkley: tree and barn occupations
French energy giant EDF is currently preparing to clear the 400-acre greenfield site at Hinkley - which is supposedly protected under national and international conservation designations - even before planning permission has been granted for its proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station. In February, activists first occupied trees on the site in response to initial ground clearance, and later squatted a disused barn at Langborough Farm in the middle of the proposed development site and home to protected bats threatened with eviction. The tree occupation was evicted after three days by a climbing team hired by EDF, and after security had kept the occupiers awake all night with "taunts and intimidation from barking dogs." In response to the barn occupation, EDF sought a wide-ranging injunction to allow them to evict the squatters and to limit further protests at the site. At the High Court hearing in London on 27 February, a possession order was granted for the occupied site but the application for an injunction against various anti-nuclear groups was rejected. After an attempt at illegal eviction on 28 February, the site was evicted the following day at the crack of dawn, with two men arrested for obstructing an officer of the High Court. One of these was Theo Simon, who had D-locked himself by the neck to the window ledge of the barn. A woman who climbed on to the dilapidated roof was brought down by bailiffs who had to erect a scaffold tower: she was not arrested. The two arrestees were held for over 24 hours before pleading guilty, each receiving a six-month conditional discharge. Around twenty people came to support the pair at Taunton Magistrates' Court.. Mainstream news reports: [1 | 2 ].
CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND
The first new nuke for years
- Hinkley C would be the first new nuclear power station in the UK since Sizewell B, completed in 1995.
- Sale of nuclear-operator British Energy to EDF in 2009. 20% share subsequently sold to Centrica (parent company of British Gas)
- A Corruption of Governance? report, launched in January 2012, jointly produced by Unlock Democracy and the Association for the Conservation of Energy - parliament misled in relation to energy National Policy Statements concerning nuclear power (EN-1 and EN-6).
- Hinkley would use Areva's EPR design. Existing EPR projects in Finland, France and China have suffered years of construction delays and are massively over-budget, and major safety issues with the EPR design have been raised by nuclear regulators in the UK, France and Finland.
- EDF fined 1.5 million euros and its former security chief sentenced to three years in prison in France last year for employing a firm to hack into Greenpeace's computers. Guardian report.
- Energy companies, including EDF, have lent more than 50 staff to government departments - Oil and nuclear industries' presence throughout Whitehall exposed by Green MP, who warns of undue influence on policy. Guardian report.
- Just last week, EDF Energy was forced to pay 4.5 million pounds to help vulnerable consumers after energy regulator Ofgem found the company guilty of breaching marketing licence conditions. Reuters report.- Senior environmental campaigners have recently reported the UK to the European Commission as they fear the hidden subsidies from the UK to two French nuclear power companies may contravene EU competition law.
- Nuclear power: The dream that failed. Economist report.
Back in 2007 David Fleming published a free book on nuclear power, The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy, in which he pointed out some key facts, the first, and most important being, "the nuclear industry will never, from its own resources, be able to generate the energy it needs to clear up its own backlog of waste". This has already proven to be the case in Japan where the cost of the Fukushima clean up combined with the cost of their whole nuclear programe will exceed the value of the power generated — it would have been cheaper for them to have burnt fossil fuels (listen to RedEye: The Fukushima nuclear disaster - one year later for the source of the estimates of the cost of the cleanup).
The history of the nuclear energy programme in Japan and the links with the horrific atmospheric testing in the Marshall Islands and the nukes dropped by the US at the end of WW2 to start the cold war are discussed in a talk titled From Nuclear Weapons to Nuclear Energy: The U.S., The Marshall Islands, and Japan.
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 13 March 2012