November 2010


30 November 2010     Nottingham Crown Court

Snowing much today, resulting a couple of jury members being late to court. We eventually start after a couple of hours delay.

Edward Rees QC for the defence calls another defendant to the witness box. Mr SC.

After introductions he reminds us of the prosecutions remark yesterday Miss Gerry “suggested that the money that was spent on the action would have been better off hiring Cheryl Cole to model second hand fashions”.  SC standing in the witness box and looking quite dapper, he says that his tweed suit and all his cloths were in fact purchased from second hard charity shops.

SC has worked as an freelance environmental researcher for the last 10 years. He had also been on the Greenpeace employed staff for 2 years.  He has a degree in Applied Biology.  Additionally, he has served as a Parish Counsellor in Bradwell in the Peak District, Derbyshire for 4 years. He has been speaking on environmental issues to schools and public meetings.  To Mr Rees’ surprise he says he also had organised tree planting weekends.  Explaining, he said Treesponsibility provided a hands-on community involvement to take practical action on an environment matter.  Trees help bind soil and help prevent erosion and assist in minimising flooding.  There are intense pressures on the Peak District, with the volume of visitors and had worked on public transport issues there.

While working with Greenpeace, during 4 -5 years, he had been concerned with and researched energy generation employing different fuels and supplies to the National Grid. Mr Rees asks, what do you conclude from your research? SC says that he believes that we are close to a number of the tipping points that Dr Hansen had described yesterday, accelerating climate changes.  The consequences?  Well unless we take measures to reduce CO2 emissions we will reach such tipping points.

SC says having been at the very first COP in Berlin in 1995 [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].  All conferences were doing was people simply engaging in an ‘on-going process’ without end.  Moving onto Kyoto, there were no binding agreements achieved and did not include USA and China. President Bush would not ratify any such agreements. SC says that unless big emitters like the USA etc join in, then all efforts will fail to achieve any of the required effects. From Kyoto to Copenhagen, he explained that his experience of the COP process had left him disillusioned with its effectiveness, and how when the Ratcliffe occupation had been planned in the run up to the Copenhagen summit, the activists already had a very pessimistic outlook on the likelihood of it achieving much. This pessimism was unfortunately proven to be well-placed.

We are now at the point with a conference meeting again at Cancum, Mexico. But politics remains impotent. With such intransigent s, nothing is going to happen at least for another 2 years to the next presidential election
When Mr Rees asked why he had attempted to shut the station down.  He responded, “to achieve the largest savings in emissions that we physically could”. He referred to the Stern review figure of the damage of one tonne of carbon at £50 and that therefore if they managed to stop 150,000 tonnes of carbon, it would amount to savings of £7.5 million. He didn’t see what else he could do to effect this much of a saving. 150,000 toms might not be much when compared globally, but it is a significant amount none the less.

Mr Rees turns to the police raid on the Iona School. SC saying that even though on their arrival, the police were offered access and keys, they continued to batter at outside and the inside doors causing damage. He had earlier given a briefing to the groups, reassuring them that the action will have little effect on the total grid.  The lights will remain on.

The plan was to split into groups. He describes the operation of the coal conveyors, taking coal to the plants for crushing and pulverising and onto its storage in hoppers.  There is held there about 6 – 8 hours of coal burning capacity. This would therefore allow for the controlled shutdown of the plant ,rather than having it bought to a crashing stop. There was no intention to do that.

The conveyors were to be stopped and people would be locked onto the equipment using the tubes. Climbers would also mount plant.  Another group would also have gone to the control room to explain the action to staff. All groups would have the relevant safety equipment, hard hats, hi-vis vests and the rest, and all had received an appropriate safety briefing.

After court returned from lunch, Mr Rees asks SC about what it means that the Ratcliffe Power Station had a ‘black start’ capacity.  That it had a small power station adjacent to start the main station in the event of a complete failure of the National Grid.

Cross-examining, Miss Gerry asks if closed down the station, would that not have an influence on the grid? A minor loss in scale, the light would remain on.  If that was the case, Miss Gerry suggests that it would not have saved the 150,000 tons claimed.  All that would happen would that another station would be fired up to replace lost generation, also creating yet more emissions.  SC claimed that it would be reasonable to expect the replacing stations to be gas fired, since as coal would be cheaper in generation, those stations would already be running.

Moving onto the press release, Miss Gerry keeps trying to suggest that shutting down a ‘black start’ facility was alarming to the public if they had known about it. This was not mentioned in the press release. SC says there are many other such stations, so grid security was maintained.

When the police arrested and questioned you, why not tell them more of your motives and background that you have told us today? He says we had all received legal briefing to make ‘no comment’ to questions in interview.

Gerry then refers to SC previous experience with campaigning about open cast coal mining. She implies this was a model of reasonable behaviour in public engagement on an issue.  But, that this Ratcliffe action was conducted in secret and certainly wasn’t reasonable.

With more snow falling outside and travel chaos assured … the court rises early

The case continues a bit more …….. etc

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
http://unfccc.int

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm

Ratcliffe on Trial Blog    http://ratcliffeontrial.org/blog

Onwards … >

At 11.00am barrister, Mr Edward Rees QC opens the case for the defence. He calls the first witness, one of the defendants SS.

She has been employed by Greenpeace for 8 years, although, this was not an ‘official’ Greenpeace action.  In fact she took a short holiday in order to do it. Money had been raised by an assortment of donations.  She said that her attitudes about climate change had developed over the last 10 years but her involvement with Greenpeace and other influences. She sited a pamphlet she remembered reading in 2001 titled ‘Millions at Risk’ that was one of her first awakenings about the nature of the likely consequences of climate change.

SS mentions Dr. James Hansen as another influence and an earlier publication ‘Climate Change and Trace Gases’ as impressing on the need for change.

She says she was part of a team that presented climate change issues to political party conferences, sometimes including the head of the Meteorological Office.

For her, there is little doubt that there is a link between different amounts of carbon in the atmosphere and the resultant climatic changes.  Another work sited to illustrate these concerns: Mark Lynas – Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.

Mr Rees asks her, what are climate changes causes?
The emitting of far to much CO2 by burning fossil fuels since the industrial revolution. Coal IS the biggest contributor to these changes and the most polluting.  The resulting CO2 causes changes in the composition of the atmosphere.  Interacting with the CO2, the suns rays then create a ‘greenhouse effect’ as more heat is absorbed.

SS goes on to explain the additional concern of ‘tipping points’. These are thresholds beyond which climate change spirals out of control. Instead of linear relationships,  conditions change beyond predictions and control. Reductions in carbon emissions are thus required now. We could be within 10 years of tipping points being reached before irreversibility.  Within the 8 years with Greenpeace as a climate campaign assistant, she has been a political advisor to politicians of all parties. Greenpeace however is non-political and supports no particular parties.

She goes onto to explain meeting with groups like the Environmental Audit Committee and party conferences.  Mr Rees is showing that SS had engaged in the political process and not engaged in the ‘bit of the jolly’ the prosecution were trying to suggest.  SS had previously met with environment ministers, Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor. Members of the European Parliament MEP’s in meetings about European Environmental Targets,  and the attempts to influence politicians to engage in CO2 limiting processes.  But as far as she could see, little change was affected. She now works as a forest campaigner dealing with issues of de-forestation.

Mr Rees asks what has that got to do with climate change?   Forests by absorbing CO2  assist in keeping the balance. Forest burning contributes to CO2 emissions and a ‘domino effect’ is brought about. Trees store and absorb carbon, thus less trees = less CO2 absorbed.  Half of all species in the world are to be found in the Amazon.  Effects of climate changes would be unknown in the region.

SS says she is also aware of frightening projections in the reduced scale of the ice caps, perhaps in her lifetime. Again, there is a potential tipping point.  The ice will thus reflect less heat. The resultant ‘darker oceans’ will absorb more heat, accelerating the process of further melting. The consequences are unknown, of the excessive heating of the oceans. The collective processes are leading to organisms ‘soaking up’ less carbon.

Climate change is leading to an increase in flooding worldwide. She has had some personal experience of this. The burning of coal and the resulting carbon emitted is causally linked to this increase in flooding. It is an alarming prospect and it is necessary to think about alternatives like, wind and solar power.

E-on are burning coal because it’s cheaper.  When dealing with politicians she is very pessimistic about their political will to bring about the required changes. Going on to the Kyoto Treaty, the international agreement to limit greenhouse gases., she points out that it has not bought about the required restrictions. With limited ratifications, the USA had watered down meaningful requirements and politicians remained intransient.  SS says this had made her very pessimistic about the ability of politicians to affect change. On to the Copenhagen Conference, there is still no optimism in setting target or agreements of the required changes that are needed.

The proposed Ratcliffe action occurred before Copenhagen but she was aware of limitations on the build up to the Conference. Of course the conference didn’t result in any agreement on targets. To this day, this remains the case.  She says politics is clearly hopeless in bringing about changes and she remains pessimistic about bring about the required changes by political argument.  Politicians are ‘carrying on’ without view to the consequences.

Thus, she takes direct action. She did so to save 150,000 tons in carbon, that Ratcliffe emits a week.  Every ton counts towards effects and deaths. Thus stopping emission even for this short time, will saves lives, species, flooding, peoples’ livelihoods and property. Dealing with the proposed action, SS was part of the planning. Since Mid January 2009 to their arrest in April planning continued with the associated timeline. Later, she gives a briefing at the Iona School, in the legal system and advice on arrest. This is based on the Climate Camp ‘bust card’ with advice to remain silent on questioning.  The defendants followed this advice.

On the day, people were to split into groups, some would lock onto the coal conveyors, some to climb a chimney. Entrance was to be achieved by simply driving through the front gate, only minimal opposition was to be expected since this would have been on the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Black team were to head for the conveyor, press the emergency stop button and occupy that plant.
Green team would climb a chimney, SS said she was part of that team. The object was to prevent the re-starting of the station. She said her main object was to stop emissions but realised there would be press interest and would make the most of it.

Orange group to occupy the gates.

Silver group to surround the chimney.

Gold group to go to the control room and to explain action to staff. With a view to advising on safety measures.

Mr Rees takes her back to the school and the police action. The police broke in casing the damage previously described to the school.  Those present caused none of the resulting damage. Police would not let supporting groups back into the school to clean up after events. Preferring that the owners claimed on the insurance, adding to the costs of the operation of course.

Miss Felicity Gerry for the prosecution starts her cross examination. Confirming SS was involved in elements of the planning of the operations. Agreeing she was and confirming she was conspiring to close down the power station. Gerry seeks to divide the defendants into ‘chiefs and indians’ but this wasn’t accepted.

Miss Gerry went on to the ‘Ecological Show Stoppers’ Leaflet. This document was a complete sham. A cover to assemble the group. Just going to a workshop if challenged. Some people knew what they were going to without specifics, others were curious.

The prosecution tries to suggest no carbon would in fact be saved ! SS replies that if they had been successful a gas-fired station might have been started instead with less CO2 resulting. The object was also to highlight the proposed construction of the Kingsnorth Station. But the reason for going to Ratcliffe was because it was owned by E-on and the second largest emitter of CO2 in the UK.

Miss Gerry then goes on to highlight efforts that people made in hiding laptops, sim cards phones etc, and trying to flush materials down the toilet. Defendants did all this because they knew their action were unreasonable.. Legal briefings were necessary  because they knew they were committing a crime.  SS responds that there is a difference between trespassing as against the crimes against the lives and conditions of millions of people.

Attempts to say activists were on the fringes of society and actions can result in disengaging the public.  By taking such direct action, there is a risk of loosing public support for an issue. She seeks to marginalise their efforts.

The prosecution returns to criticising the defences argument of an existing ‘democratic deficit’. Miss Gerry suggests all are remiss in not taking every opportunity in engaging with the public in argument in a variety of groupings.

The prosecution then went on to suggest a bizarre list of ways that the activists could better have spent their time.
•    Woman’s Institute
•    Scout Groups
•    Police Federation
•    School
•    Universities
•    Factories
•    Trade Unions
•    Conservative Party meetings
•    Canvasing for politicians
•    Bingo Halls

Establishing her own credentials Miss Gerry does this by letting the jury know that she bought second hand clothes and had a compost toilet, before the judge told her that her personal life wasn’t relevant to the court case.

She cited Paul McCartney and Coldplay’s Chris Martin as examples of effective environmentalism, through their involvement with ‘Meat Free Mondays’. Instead of closing down power stations, she suggested that the defendants would be better off searching for celebrity endorsements for the likes of ‘Turn-off Tuesdays” or “Switch-Off Sundays.” Finally, she suggested that the money that was spent on the action would have been better off hiring Cheryl Cole to model second hand fashions!!!!!!!

SS does agree that people do need to take individual action in their own lives.  But this is simply note enough, next to the size of the issues / problems.

For the defence, Mr Rees again get SS to reiterate the scale and magnitude of the required changes. That celebrity endorsement and action that people , just as individuals can make is not enough.

Witness SS stands down and court retires till after lunch.

IPCC Report: Millions At Risk Of Hunger And Water Stress In Asia Unless Global Greenhouse Emissions Cut
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070410134724.htm

James Hansen – National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
Goddard Institute for Space Studies
http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_2.html

Mark Lynas – Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
http://www.marklynas.org/books

From Cancún to Copenhagen: A year in climate change : As delegates from around the world descend on Cancún, Mexico, we reflect on 12 months of climate talks
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/nov/29/cancun-climate-change-talks-copenhagen?CMP=twt_fd

In the afternoon, the defence calls Dr. James E. Hansen, Head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA’s Goddard Institute.  Mr Rees takes the jury through his large number of accolades and his experience since 1977.  He advised the Climate Task Force during the Bush administration on the role of humans in accelerating climate changes.

He published work titled ‘Storm of my Grandchildren’,  Mr Rees asks about the reference to grandchildren?  It takes decades for full effects of any changes to take place. But it’s put to him you can’t predict the weather a week ahead in Nottingham, so how on earth can we predict these climate effects decades ahead.

There are trends. For the planet to be in equilibrium, energy radiating would be equal to the energy received. Human processes have been upsetting this balance. CO2, methane and other gases absorb infra-red. There is little effect on the radiation coming in but it does prevent heat leaving at the same rate, acting like a blanket around the earth. That all is getting warmer, there is no significant challenge to these concepts.

Additionally, there is an amplifying feedback.  As the planet becomes warmer, the ice surface diminishes.  Thus the larger area of ‘darker oceans’ heats up faster.  A slow change but inexorable and would take millennium to return to an equilibrium.  As oceans become warmer, it gives up CO2 to the atmosphere, another amplifying feedback.

Mr Rees asks how we know this process is anything to do with human interventions.  It is now clear that human influences far exceed natural changes. 10,000 times faster than changes before the industrial revolution.  Referring to changes since the last ice age, there will of course be natural changes, but humans are contributing to these cycles.

Asked what if nothing is done, what’s the impact? Dr Hansen says disintegration of the ice sheets, extermination of species and taking tens of thousands of years to regenerate.  Thus, our grandchildren will inherit a more desolate planet than we have inhabited. We are approaching tipping points when these processes will become alarming.  There is disagreement about the rates of change, but, large agreement about it consequences.   Being shown many maps, graphs and charts, Dr Hansen interprets ranges of effects leading to ocean rising levels. In Europe, there are higher human populations living next to coasts because of historical maritime commerce. There are of course grave effects awaiting the millions of Bangladesh and numerous islands. The IPCC says that ‘business as usual’ will result in catastrophic rises in ocean levels within this century.

Mr Rees says we now come to ‘King Coal’ why is this fuel significant?  Dr Hansen say that it’s because the stocks are so much larger than oil and gas reserves in the earth. Further all resources are finite, with the approach of ‘peak oil’, oil and gas will become more expensive as it becomes more problematic to extract dwindling reserves. Burning coal is the dirtiest of fuels and should be left in the ground. We simply must phase out coal burning for energy generation.

Why is urgent to take action now?  It’s because it’s plain that we are approaching these tipping points, and we need to limit amounts of additional CO2 emissions or it wont be possible to avoid passing them.  Thus causing distress to future generations.  Resulting in imbalances in processes for a very long time. Current governmental target are meaningless without phasing out coal burning.  ‘Business as Usual’, might lead to 5degC increase in this century and the planet wont look like it has for the last 10,000 years.

Dr Hansen says it is obvious that unless coal is not burnt, then governments are lying in what they say are their stated aims.  I can see why young people are upset when faced with such deception.  Referring to the fluctuations in climate described in the many graphs, charts and maps it is apparent humans are changing what is normal.

Miss Gerry cross-examines.  Dr Hansen says he’s done his best to educate the public on shortcoming governments. They are mainly influenced in policy by fossil fuel industries. The public needs to be better informed to thus bring about political pressure.  He appears pessimistic that governments are listening to peoples concerns.

If we shut all the power stations, and coal mines, what are the alternatives?  At present, we don’t have an alternative. Simply improving energy efficiency is not enough.  What can ordinary people do?  Influence politicians. Burning materials slower wont do it. People see companies lobbying for ‘business as usual’ as having a disproportionate  effect on policy.  Deniers and contrarians are given equal weight, but they shouldn’t be since opinions are well out of proportions in numbers believing their is nothing to worry about.

He says the media is failing to give the public an explanation on these issues.  Sometimes they are funded by corporations with their own agendas.  The public cannot hold the politician to account if they are under informed.

Miss Gerry asks if we carry on, are we all going to die? Dr Hansen says yes, we are all going to die anyway. But during the lifetime of our children, there will be many changes to our planets distress.

Governments continue to ignore their responsibility to young people.

There was then a ripple of applause from the public and disapproving looks from court officials. You’re not supposed to do this in courts!

Dr. James E. Hansen :  Storms of My Grandchildren:
The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.   ISBN-13: 978-1608192007

Dr. James E. Hansen, Head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA’s Goddard Institute http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html

The case continues a bit more …….. etc

“On the issue of coal-fired power stations they are right … carbon emissions will kill us all … As politicians we do not grasp the urgency of scientific warnings about how little time we have left to radically transform our whole thinking about sustainable energy systems. Inevitably, this leaves the challenge to be picked up by the public rather than by parliament. In doing so, it just doesn’t help if we end up locking up those who would save the planet rather than those who drive us towards climate crises.”

Alan Simpson
Former MP for Nottingham South

In the early hours of April 13th 2009 a highly expensive and widely condemned policing operation saw 114 climate campaigners arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage. In what has been deemed the largest ever ‘pre-emptive’ arrest, hundreds of police burst into a meeting room where plans were being made to safely shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar, the UK’s third largest coal fired power station.

Had the action gone ahead it would have stopped around 150 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere, while drawing attention to the failure of provided democratic channels.

Through invasive surveillance police had gathered information on the activists, pinpointed their location, and interrupted the meeting meaning the action never went ahead. The campaigners were held for over twenty hours before being released onto the streets of Nottingham in the middle of the night, many with their phones and money confiscated.

All charges were dropped for the majority of the 114, but 26 have been committed to Nottingham Crown Court on a charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. The maximum sentence for this offence is three months in prison, a fine of £2,500, or both. All entered a plea of not guilty.

Six of the defendants hadn’t yet decided whether or not to take part in the action when the police arrived on the scene. They were arrested anyway, just for thinking about climate action!
Their trial starts on January 10th 2011, and will be an important case with regard to freedom of protest in the UK. Watch this site for more information closer to the time.

The remaining 20 defendants admit that they planned to shut down the power station, but argue that they are not guilty because they were acting to prevent the greater crimes of death and serious injury caused by climate change. This is called a ‘defence of necessity’. Their trial starts on the 22nd November 2010.

Why Necessity?

In addition to slowing Ratcliffe’s carbon emissions, this action was to be part of a wider movement for global environmental justice. You only have to look at the floods in Pakistan and the droughts in Russia to see that climate change is hitting those least responsible for it the hardest while putting all of our futures in jeopardy.

Around the world governments are failing to address the climate crises. Instead they protect business as usual as they continue to compete for endless economic growth. This is in spite of increasingly stark warnings from the scientific community of the cost of inaction. By allowing the coal to keep burning at dinosaurs like Ratcliffe-on-Soar, the UK government continues to evade its legal duty to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

As we face the worst spending cuts in decades we have to ask why so many resources are being ploughed into monitoring climate campaigners, while so little is being done to create an environmentally and economically just future.

From the suffragettes to the civil rights movements, direct action has long been the pathway to change the world for the better. Those on trial are ordinary people experiencing the failures of our present political system, who remain determined to see action taken on climate change.

Hard Times – for Police Credibility
: Rounding off an extremely bad month (for them), the past 12 hours has been hard on police credibility as they try to address the fallout from the 24 November demos. First, they denied that a serving officer discharged a BCF halon fire extinguisher … point-blank into the faces of young demonstrators during the student demonstrations this past Wednesday.

Indymedia London | Articles | Show | Hard Times – for Police Credibility
london.indymedia.org.uk

Published: November 26, 2010 18:29 by supertimmy | iBeginShare.attachLink(‘share-tool-6141’, { link: ‘http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6141‘, title: ‘Hard Times – for Police Credibility’

To all the university occupations
Some basic advice on Injunctions and Possession orders.

Indymedia London | Articles | Show | More legal advice for student occupations
london.indymedia.org

Published: November 26, 2010 20:03 by Green and Black Cross Legal Team | iBeginShare.attachLink(‘share-tool-6142’, { link: ‘http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6142‘, title: ‘More legal advice for student occupations’, link_styl…

a splendid piece on issues and rights around street photography

A seminar Exploring Society’s Suspicions of Photographers
House of Parliament. London – Wednesday 27th October 2010

“Which law would that be, officer?” David Hoffman, photographer

How To Change Attitudes – Summary, John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser

“Which law would that be, officer?” Chez Cotton, Head of Police Misconduct Department, Bindmans LLP

“Which law would that be, officer?” Introduction by London Photographers’ Branch (LPB) Chair Jess Hurd.

“What makes you think you can take my picture?” Anna Mazzola, solicitor, Hickman and Rose.

“What makes you think you can take my picture?” Professor Chris Frost, Head of Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University

Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster introduces the parliamentary seminar “Who’s Afraid of Photographers?”

Will Street Photography still be around in five years time?

Continuing from yesterday, Barrister for the prosecution, Miss Felicity Gerry continued to hack her way in reading through the significant sized list of papers, maps, equipment and property. Laying out the sophistication of the plans.

101125_e72_003-medium

We now got to the technical kit including
3x walkie-talkie radios [460hz] with approx. 3km range
Camcorders and batteries
A microwave transmitter. [Police experts suggesting that this equipment was for a directional video ‘downlink’.  The signal to be able to be received at a distance in line-of-sight. A compass was also listed, used to assist in this process.]
Assorted digital cameras
Laptop computers found secreted in various rooms within the school.
A ‘dongle’ to enable an internet connection.  The judge helpfully unplugged and held his dongle up for the jury to see!

{Yesterday, a bit of a chuckle went round the court, when the judge gave a short weather forecast; as there was concern about the bad weather today.  Pointing out that that he was the only one in court allowed to google!! }

Taken together with the equipment and preparation listing from yesterday, the prosecution’s comments have unveiled the extent of the 114’s safety measures. For example using gas detectors, respiratory protection, ear protection, as well as first aid kits. These details demonstrate the hard work and planning that went into an action that the prosecution have been trying to portray as ‘a bit of a laugh’.

On now to catering matters. There was fair amount of equipment found there, not belonging to the school. Miss Gerry introduces documents that mention ‘Veggies’ [yet again] and an order to supply 120 people over a week. Noted “don’t tell anyone about it” There is another paper presented quoting “At Veggies, we like a challenge” 

A while was now spent on a description of fingerprint evidence.  This was presented such to describe the positioning of the defendants dabs that had been found on assorted papers and folders and phones..

Miss Gerry now moves onto the positions and circumstances of the arrests made on the morning of the 13th April 2009 at the Iona School, Sneinton, Nottingham.  All 20 defendants were arrested cautioned and mostly remained silent.  They were taken to a variety of police stations across the region.

Although there would have been taped interviews, none were played in court.

She read to the jury, the words of the police caution:
“You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”.

Now, as the defendants had largely said nothing on their arrest or interviews, she seemed thus to be asking the jury to make an inference of their guilt.

Now, back into ‘list mode’ she starts to list the defendants arrest location, reference to the ‘no comment’ interviews of each and very long lists of seized personal property taken and returned.  Right down to assorted screws, pens, water bottles, biscuits, portions of cheese !! Descriptions of the police processing of times dates and places.  We get through the first few.  Mr Rees for the defence rises and asks if we need this level of details, but Miss Gerry says she has already summarised the material …. And perseveres for another hour or so!!

On a personal note, I was a bit perturbed during all this to discover that there was a police officer involved in the processing, called  one Detective Constable Lodge.  Uummmm!  I guess we might meet in the street sometime.

The monotony of this listing was broken briefly when Miss Gerry quoted the response of MS replying under caution said:

“There may be a bail-out for the banks,
but not for humanity with climate change.  Nature doesn’t do bail-outs”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw me suddenly spring into action with my pen to get that down. She said that Mr MS has helped the press with the ‘quote of day’.

After lunch, further mention is made of legal advice papers. Listing documents such as the climate camp ‘bust card’ and papers including reference to ‘no comment’ advice.

In sum, Miss Felicity Gerry says that all 20 people were arrested at the Iona School on the 13th April 2009 as part of the larger group of 144 detained. That they conspired to carry out the action described. The prosecution closes.

The defence will open its case at 10.00am on Monday 29th November 2010.

Their first witness will be Dr. James E. Hansen, Head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA’s Goddard Institute.  He will be arriving from the United States and is expected to give his opinions on climate change and mans influences on these processes.

the case still continues etc ……..

Ratcliffe Conspiracy Trial Begins [Feature]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/701

Ratcliffe conspiracy to trespass trial opens today
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/693

Ratcliffe Trial Day 2 – Prosecution’s Opening
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/702

Ratcliffe Trial Day 3 – Prosecution case continues
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/710

Ratcliffe Trial: Prosecution Opens [Feature 2]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/714

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

Barrister for the prosecution, Miss Felicity Gerry continued to outline their case.

101124_e72_003-medium

Taking the jury further into the huge bundle of paper they’d been given to consider, she spent much time on the press release that had already been prepared ahead of the action intended.

She points out the press release notes describe the actions intended. They include element such as peaceful protest, trespass, the intent of climbing structures and securing access. Notes about the Ratcliffe power stations operations. Then there was another section drawing attention to the issues the then Energy Secretary Ed Milliband MP, who was considering an application for the construction of another coal-fired power station by E-on at that time.

Notes suggested that the protesters had researched issues for several months before their arrest to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others before engaging in the action. Further, to minimize power disruptions.

By reading out the press release, almost in its entirety to the court, I was struck in thinking that this was perhaps doing a lot of the defences work for them! I formed the impression of the great amount of care, consideration and research that had been put into the whole project. But i think the motive here is clearly to demonstrate the amount of premeditation and possible conspiracy that the prosecution allege had taken place.

Miss Gerry continued onto the question & answers leaflet that had also be found at the school. She again seemed to me to be suggesting that the depth of research, thought-out consequences, again demonstrated the premeditation and a conspiracy.

Another leaflet was introduced titled: ‘Important notice for people working at Ratcliffe Power Station’ intended to provide an explanation to workers about the action. On then to a media contact list prepared with the contact and phone number of a number of TV and newspaper journalist and newsrooms.

Further into the bundle, she introduces an assortment of papers, some torn up and reassembled by the police, found within various rooms in the Iona School. A flip chart paper and a couple of other bits and bobs. All describing aspects of the proposed action, amounting in fact, to an operational plan.

Miss Gerry spent some time describing the operation of a flow chart. Its object was to lay out what to do on arrival at the plant if challenged by worker or security / or not challenged. The arrangement of people into ‘task groups’ and how to proceed when confronted with a variety of obstacles.

The presence of ‘what to do if’ and arrest advice papers suggested that they intended to engage in illegal activities. Another note discovered referred to a company called Veggies “Please supply high calorific high density durable foods” individually packed but sometimes would be available for sharing. Food bags were discovered with days of the week written on them.

Great emphasis was put of another leaflet titled: Ecological Show Stoppers. Street theatre, Sunday 12th April 2009 Iona School, Sneinton, Nottingham.

After lunch we continue with a oh so long listing of equipment.  The back bench of the court has a large array of exhibits in plastic bags, all carefully presented by a court officer resplendent in blue sterile gloves. Unnecessary I thought, when holding ropes , bits of metals and wood which are all contained in plastic. But, me thinks, it all gives an air of crime, danger, presentation etc.

Although not absolutely everything seized, Miss Gerry tells the court that it is a sample to give a flavour of the materials involved.  She has the court officer display to the jury:
D-locks
Cycle steel rope locks
Climbing ropes, clips and harnesses [a variety of all-sorts]
Hard hats, masks and ear-defenders
A roll-able metal climbing ladder
‘Lock-on’ tubes [constructed from fire extinguisher casings, a steel tubes encased in concrete

Police photographs then presented in the bundle showing:
A hired gas detector
Steel device with handles to block a door
Assortment of power tools inc. cutting equipment, drills etc

Miss Gerry suggests that all this equipment would enable the defendants to carry out their stated aims to shut down the power station for a week.

Banners of varying sizes including the words:
For climate justice
2000 tons of carbon saved
Coal = Climate Disaster
No more coal

A sketch was also found showing how to hang a banner with ropes and weighting down with sandbags.

Crumbs!  Today was very much about lists. Lists of papers, equipment & kit,  personal items, sleeping bags, bedding etc etc etc etc ….. we are now onto vehicle. Hired from a variety of companies and locations.

An assortment of receipts for kit, tools, fuel, maps and routes.

It then took a while for her to describe the number of mobile telephones and an assortment of sim cards. Also some radio equipment. They were found in various places about the school and on people present there. All were unregistered and recently purchased. Effort was made in then explaining some of suggested links between them and numbers that had called each other.

We all adjourn until 10.30am tomorrow.

the case continues etc ……..

+++

Ratcliffe Trial Day 2 – Prosecution’s Opening
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/702

Ratcliffe conspiracy to trespass trial opens today
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/693

Ratcliffe Conspiracy Trial Begins [feature]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/701

http://ratcliffeontrial.org/blog

After yesterdays administrations and argument, today started with the jury being introduced to the prosecutions main elements of the case. The indictment reads:

The Queen V 20x names. are charged as follows:
Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass, Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

That .. between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 15th day of April 2009 conspired together and with others unknown to commit aggravated trespass.

Opening for the Prosecution, Miss Felicity Gerry invited the jury to write down “conspiracy, trespass, disruption, lawful activity”. Suggesting that if they find the defendants to have done this, then they are guilty of offence.

During the Easter weekend on 13th April 2009, 114 people were gathered together at the Iona School, Sneinton, Nottingham to plan and engage in a conspiracy to trespass at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
Executing search warrants, Nottinghamshire Police mounted a major action Operation Aeroscope. Resulting in the arrest of all present. People had travelled from all over the country.  Documents recovered at the scene showed there was an agreed plan. To drive to the Ratcliffe power station, to climb the plant there and to display banners.  Thus they would disrupt the ‘lawful activity’ of the plant, it was hoped, for a week.  The crown claim the planned disruption was plainly a conspiracy. The police had recovered a press release prepared in advance demonstrating the intention of the defendants involved in this conspiracy.  Other documents found referred to food and supplies for the weeks occupation.

At this time the [then] Secretary of State for Energy Ed Milliband had application on his deck from companies wishing to build another power station.

This group had no intention of engaging in a democratic discussion on these issues and thus became involved in unreasonable direct action.  The press release included journalist contact list, thus to derive the maximum possible publicity for their actions.  Further, other document were found to be distributed to workers on the site to explain the groups actions in restricting to power stations operations.

The crown claim it is admitted by all, what their motives and intentions were.  specialist equipment seized included
10 vehicles
D-lock and steel rope cycle locks
climbing ropes and slings
heavy duty plastic carriers for food supplies etc
hard hats, Hi-vis vests
face masks
ladders
power tools
rucksacks
4x banners

Miss Gerry was critical saying defendant should address their remarks to MP’s on not in direct action with banners. Legal briefing were also discovered at the school, showing they knew they were committing crime. All defendants admit to being there.  There is no dispute between the parties.

Many believe the burning of fossil fuel is putting the planet in jeopardy.  Bu that is not what the trial is about.  It’s about what is a reasonable way to express their beliefs.  When arrested, they didn’t say that, but largely remained silent.

During her opening speech to the jury Miss Gerry kept eluding to the thought that direct action might be more fun than democracy.  There are many ways to disagree with policy.

“Is it really necessary to close down a power station when there are so many democratic means available?” – referencing a political process that has allowed the first member of the Green Party to become a Member of Parliament. ‘Was it more fun’ she asked, to plan this action or to vote for Zac Goldsmith? Did the defendants do all this, because they didn’t have a Glastonbury ticket?

At this point – a member of jury passed a note with three questions to the Judge. The prosecution finished their opening and the Judge left it to the Defence Counsel to answer.

Opening for the defence barrister, Edward Rees QC said: “Zac Goldsmith? Man Utd? Glastonbury? What is the relevance of these?” asked the Jury. The Mr Rees answered that there was none!!

The Defence referred back to the Prosecution’s ‘fighting talk’. I won’t go as far to say that the Prosecution’s remarks about the defendants were offensive – but to allege that the defendants don’t engage with the democratic process is not the case.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar was responsible for over 9 million tonnes of CO2 in 2007 and that this amount continues to rise. Don’t worry … politicians and energy companies have it all in hand.

They haven’t. The defendants believe authorities were failing to deal with the issue.  In their view there was inadequacy in the processes of dealing with climate change.  It is agreed the the protesters had a well ordered plan, suggesting that during the period of the planned occupation 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions would have been prevented.

The issue here is whether what they planned and intended to do, was in fact a crime..  The test is that action was reasonable in all the circumstances.  The jury are not to be asked to decide on competing climate change facts themselves.  As a matter of law, looking at what the defendants believed to be reasonably true.

There are matters such as tipping points that we simply don’t know the facts.  The defendant wish to err on the side of caution on these matters. There is in fact, a ‘democratic deficit’ in any action on climate change. Looking at the test of reasonableness, it was necessary to act.  In fact it might be considered that the discharge of CO2 is itself a crime.  The defence of necessity [duress of circumstances] is about preventing a greater damage.  It is not for the defendants to prove that they were reasonable, but for the crown to prove it was not.

Starting with the prosecution evidence, Miss Gerry takes the jury through the contents the bundle they had each been given. It contained assorted papers, plans, photographs, vehicle routes and catering arrangements.  A special mention of a company called ‘Veggies’ that had been contacted, asking for high calorific foods to be supplied.

She then went on to give a 10 min very basic description of the technical operation of a coal-fired power station and how it produces electricity.

She then called the first witness. Mr Raymond Henry Smith.  At that time, he was plant manager of the Ratcliffe power station, employed by E-on. He said he was called by police at 3am on 13th April 2009 to say that a police  operation had prevented the arrives of the demonstrators at the plant. Asked if they had arrived, what would the effect have been? He said the plant may have operated at reduced power or shut down,  This was the decision of the plant or duty manager on what to do in the circumstances.

Beginning his questioning, defence barrister, Edward Rees QC asks if the plant was in fact offline at that time. Mr Smith said it was.  He was questioned about E-on company decisions in its operations regarding market conditions, system demands, price of coal, all trying to elicit the idea that it was largely profit considerations in the companies operations. Mr Smith said he couldn’t answer as he was not qualified in these aspects. Mr Rees keeps suggesting that he does in fact know about such market conditions.  E-on also owns a number of gas turbine stations, and it was commercial considerations for the company to consider on which to operate for its best economy.  Its coal or gas stations could thus maintain supply as it likes.  Mr Rees does get Mr Smith to agree that it is largely market conditions dictating its operations and profitability but within current legislation.

Then questioned about carbon capture. It was suggested to him that E-on had pulled out of competition stating that it was not profitable.  In fact 30 of the most polluting stations, half were located in the UK.  But Mr Smith doesn’t know. He also wouldn’t say if he or the company believes that CO2 emission result in the effect of global warming.

Ratcliffe built in 1968 / 42 years old. But £ millions have been invested to improve efficiency. However Ratcliffe emissions had continued to rise. Mr Smith says that although efficiency has improved, more generation does result in still greater emissions.

Mr Smith said he had previously been aware at least 5 days before the activist planned actions. But he didn’t know if an injunction had been sought.  The witness stands down

For the prosecution again Miss Gerry introduces a video shot by police after all the defendant had been removed and the building had been searched. Now in daylight, we were shown room after room with some outside shots to give a sense of place and to demonstrate the buildings layout.  the jury had a map, correlating to the references on the video.  The place looked well disheveled and  I thought, were trying to show mess, damage and a lack of care of the building.  A door hanging off the hinges, holes in walls and doors etc.  Papers and property were displayed. I have to say that it was one of the most boring videos I’ve seen in a while! Some of the jury yawned … the judges’ eyes seemed to me to get heavier.

After this view, I found it hugely encouraging when the jury passed a note to the judge. When read out, they asked was the mess and damage to the door building etc caused by the protesters, or, the police during the conduct of the operation.  Prosecution agreed that yes, it was the police!!

She then went onto photos in the bundle, of food supplies in vehicles, more equipment, sleeping bags etc.

the case continues etc ……..

+++

Ratcliffe Conspiracy Trial Begins [feature]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/701

Ratcliffe conspiracy to trespass trial opens today
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/693

http://ratcliffeontrial.org/blog

18 months after 114 people were initially arrested at the Iona School in Sneinton, 20 climate change activists have begun a month-long trial today. They were originally arrested on 13th April 2009.

On Monday 22 November 2010, they have appeared to answer charge at Nottingham Crown Court: that they conspired together to cause aggrevated trespass at the Radcliffe Power Station. The trial is expected to last 4 weeks.

On Monday 22 November 2010, they have appeared to answer charge at Nottingham Crown Court: that they conspired together to cause aggrevated trespass at the Radcliffe Power Station. The trial is expected to last 4 weeks.

Mass Arrest of 114 Climate Activists in Raid in Nottingham
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/427471.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/427496.html

Today has largely been taken up with agreeing a timetable for the progress of the case. Arguement about whether legal representatives are to visit the Ratcliffe site.  The defence would like to, to get a ‘feel for the location’. The prosecution thinks this un-neccesary, since no one was arrested there. E-on didn’t want to co-operate with this visit, health and safety implications etc … The swearing in of the jury has also now been completed.  Opening statement from counsel will begin tomorrow.

>> Statement from their blog:

Supporters gathered outside Nottingham Crown Court holding signs which read, “I would stop emissions too”.

Anyone in the Nottingham area who would like to meet the defendants or help out can come along to the SUMAC centre (NG7 6HX) each evening after the trial at 7pm for dinner at People’s Kitchen.

The arrests were thought to be the biggest ever pre-emptive arrest of environmental activists. The defendants are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass for planning to safely shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station for a week and in doing so stopping 150,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted. While they admit the intent, they maintain that they are not guilty of of a crime.

The defence will show that the activists acted out of necessity, to prevent death and serious injury. According to official sources, 300,000 people per year already lose their lives due to the effects of climate change and half a billion are at “extreme risk”. (http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=9668)

Rebecca Quinn, 32, who was one of those arrested in April but later had the charges dropped, said, “Climate Change is hitting those least responsible for it the hardest. Low-lying island nations are already seeing salt water encroach on their farm land, and in recent years we have seen an increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Coal is the dirtiest method of electricity generation, and must be stopped. To avoid a climate crisis, we must put people before profit. In the face of government apathy and the failure of the Copenhagen conference, it is ordinary people taking direct action who are desperately trying to avoid a bleak future of flooding, drought, crop failure and water shortages.”

James Hansen, the high profile scientist who is the Head of NASA’s Goddard Institute, is one of the many expert witnesses who will testify during the trial at Nottingham Crown Court. The leading climatologist will guide the jury through the complexities of climate science and explain how coal burning is jeopardizing the lives of millions.

Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party will give expert evidence about the failure to achieve action on climate change domestically and within the EU parliament through more conventional political means. It will be argued that the defendants had no alternative but to physically stop the power station emitting CO2, having exhausted other channels such as lobbying, campaigning, and attending marches.

The defendants are a diverse mix of people of varying ages from 21 to 45. Living across the UK, they work in teaching, science, computing, and many other areas. 114 people were originally arrested on 13th April 2009, but most subsequently had their charges dropped.

For regular updates on the trial see http://ratcliffeontrial.org/blog

>>

Notes from the previous trial held at Nottingham Magistrates Court from 14 – 16th January 2008
Ratcliffe Power Station : Court Case Reporting
[addionally, this post contains some collected links to past coverage of the issues surrounding the Ratcliffe Power Station and concern about its operations]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/zines/670

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

the trial continues etc………

Ratcliffe Trial: Nottingham Crown Court beginning Monday 22nd November 2010

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

http://ratcliffeontrial.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/ratcliffeontrial.pdf

In the early hours of April 13th 2009 a highly expensive and widely condemned policing operation saw 114 climate campaigners arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage. In what has been deemed the largest ever ‘pre-emptive’ arrest, hundreds of police burst into a meeting room where plans were being made to safely shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar, the UK’s third largest coal fired power station.

Had the action gone ahead it would have stopped around 150 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere, while drawing attention to the failure of provided democratic channels.

Through invasive surveillance police had gathered information on the activists, pinpointed their location, and interrupted the meeting meaning the action never went ahead. The campaigners were held for over twenty hours before being released onto the streets of Nottingham in the middle of the night, many with their phones and money confiscated.

All charges were dropped for the majority of the 114, but 26 have been committed to Nottingham Crown Court on a charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. The maximum sentence for this offence is three months in prison, a fine of £2,500, or both. All entered a plea of not guilty.

Six of the defendants hadn’t yet decided whether or not to take part in the action when the police arrived on the scene. They were arrested anyway, just for thinking about climate action! Their trial starts on January 10th 2011, and will be an important case with regard to freedom of protest in the UK. Watch this site for more information closer to the time.

The remaining 20 defendants admit that they planned to shut down the power station, but argue that they are not guilty because they were acting to prevent the greater crimes of death and serious injury caused by climate change. This is called a ‘defence of necessity’. Their trial starts on the 22nd November 2010.

Why Necessity?

In addition to slowing Ratcliffe’s carbon emissions, this action was to be part of a wider movement for global environmental justice. You only have to look at the floods in Pakistan and the droughts in Russia to see that climate change is hitting those least responsible for it the hardest while putting all of our futures in jeopardy.

Around the world governments are failing to address the climate crises. Instead they protect business as usual as they continue to compete for endless economic growth. This is in spite of increasingly stark warnings from the scientific community of the cost of inaction. By allowing the coal to keep burning at dinosaurs like Ratcliffe-on-Soar, the UK government continues to evade its legal duty to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

As we face the worst spending cuts in decades we have to ask why so many resources are being ploughed into monitoring climate campaigners, while so little is being done to create an environmentally and economically just future.

From the suffragettes to the civil rights movements, direct action has long been the pathway to change the world for the better. Those on trial are ordinary people experiencing the failures of our present political system, who remain determined to see action taken on climate change.

Ahead of the coming Ratcliffe Trial, I thought it helpful to remind all of the last Ratcliffe trial involving the defence of ‘necessity’ or ‘duress of circumstances

The trial held at Nottingham Magistrates Court from 14 – 16th January 2008
11 defendants go on trial charged with ‘aggravated trespass’ an offence under section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. In that they trespassed and then disrupted people engaged in a lawful activity.
Judgement delivered on 25th February 2008.

This is a .PDF of my collected notes, assorted coverage and the judgement.

Download this zine as PDF

Additionally, these are some collected links to past coverage of the issues surrounding the Ratcliffe Power Station and concern about its operations:

Nottingham Spring into Action :: Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/04/367714.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/04/367736.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/04/367757.html

Did Climate Change Cause Floods around Nottinghamshire?
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/06/374448.html

‘Clean’ Coal On Trial [Feature]
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/01/389386.html

Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 1-3]
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/01/389467.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/01/389535.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/01/389654.html

Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Verdict
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/02/392323.html

Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Judgement
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/03/392833.html

Fossil Fools Blockade E.On Offices in Nottingham
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/04/395382.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/04/395403.html

Fossil Fools Blockade E.On Offices Surveillance and Specialist Equipment
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/04/395429.html

Police Searches Houses After Arrests At E.On Blockade
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/04/395366.html

Fossil Fools Take On E.ON In Nottingham [Feature]
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/04/395424.html

Nottingham’s part of 48 hours of nationwide action against E.ON
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/11/413951.html

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Still Steams Ahead
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/414383.html

E-on Nottingham ‘Fossil Fools’ protest: prosecution offers no evidence
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/418610.html

Testing a post from Nokia E72 mobile phone.
now can use login at http://m.wordpress.com

Cool eh!