Shropshire Star

Climate protesters convicted after 'occupying' South Wales coal mine

A group of Shropshire climate campaigners have been found guilty of their involvement in a protest that 'occupied' a South Wales coal mine.

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Extinction Rebellion protestors at the coal mine last year. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

A total of seven Extinction Rebellion protesters were today convicted at Swansea Magistrates Court over the protest at the Aberpergwm coal mine in July 2022.

The protest, which involved around 60 people dressed in clear suits with flags, placards and coloured flares, was arranged in opposition to a new licence allowing the mine to extract more coal.

Those taking part occupied the mine, owned by Celtic Energy, for a number of hours.

Seven defendants – including three from Shropshire, were found guilty at trial.

They included Jamie Russell – 48, from Well Meadow Drive, Shrewsbury, Pamela Williams – 74, from Van, near Llanidloes, Stephen Jarvis – 67, from Torrington Lane, Bideford, Sarah Wilding – 56, from High Street, Aberystwyth, Rosalind Pears – 58, from Lower Whitelands, Radstock, Michael Bastow – 54, from Victoria Road, Oswestry, and Dougall Purce, 59, from North Street, Shrewsbury.

Williams, Russell, Wilding, Bastow and Purce were all found guilty of aggravated trespass, while Jarvis and Pears were found guilty of 'obstruct or disrupting a person engaged in a lawful activity'.

All seven were fined, Purce – £470, Pears – £200, Wilding – £270, Jarvis – £370, Williams – £220, Bastow – £620, and Russell – £355.

Purce was ordered to pay costs of £290, as were Wilding and Williams.

Pears was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80, Jarvis – £148, Bastow – £248, and Russell – £142.

During the trial the court had been told that the disruption over the 20 hour protest had cost the coal mine £40,000.

Speaking after the conclusion of the trial, Russell stood by their actions – which he said were being driven by their frustration at inaction over climate change.

He said: “Our leaders are failing us. The UK and Welsh governments both refused to block the new licence for the Aberpergwm mine, each passing the buck to the other.

"It would be comic if it wasn’t so serious. Politicians may talk-the-talk on net zero, yet they keep expanding the UK’s planet-wrecking coal mines.

"Our leaders are ignoring the warnings from the UN IPCC and the International Energy Agency that expanding fossil fuel infrastructure will create an unlivable planet.

"A week after our protest, a 40C heatwave hit the UK for the first time ever, resulting in over three thousand unnecessary deaths. Today we were found guilty by the courts. But we are just the canaries in the coal mine. They can arrest us, fine us, and jail us. But it doesn’t change the science. If rich nations like the UK keep expanding fossil fuels, it’s game over for everyone.”

Bastow said: "It is now 100 per cent clear that burning more coal does and will cost lives. So there is no excuse for the mine owners, Coal Authority, or the Welsh Government to continue with the Aberpergwm mine expansion until 2039. When a just transition to green industries should be a priority for workers, they are all ignoring the problem. People should know the deceitful power games that are being played here and that is why I’m protesting."

Pears added: "I am proud of our peaceful protest at Aberpergwm coal mine last July. There should be no new coal mining in the worsening climate crisis we are all facing. The global scientific consensus is that there should be no new fossil fuel extraction at all and that we need a rapid and just transition away from coal, oil and gas. How many more dire warnings are needed about the future of life on Earth for us all?"

Several of the protesters were last month convicted of involvement in a separate protest at a Barclays Bank in Cardiff,

They included Bastow, Russell, Purce, Wilding, and Williams.

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