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

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

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

Onwards … >