The Black Wood Solidarity Camp packed up last night and left the site of UK Coal’s new mine at Blair Farm, in Fife. The camp occupied the site for a week and a half to show UK Coal and other mine operators that no new mine or coal infrastructure is safe and out of reach of protesters.
The intention of the camp from the beginning was to hold a short-term occupation to bring attention to the issue, make links with local communities and cost UK Coal money. The occupation was a show of solidarity with local residents who opposed the mine, and with the currently occupied Huntington Lane open cast site in Shropshire.
One of the primary aims of the camp was to cost UK Coal money and make it more difficult for the company to cause such destruction in other places. Dunfermline Sheriff Court would inevitably have granted the summary eviction of the occupiers today and, coupled with the fact that bailiffs from the National Eviction Team recently visited site, the camp had undoubtedly already hit UK Coal profits.
The camp was set up on Sunday 21st March in protest against the devastating effects of open cast coal mining. Impacts on nearby communities will include noise and dust pollution, increased traffic on the roads through HGV movements, the loss of landscape, local ecology and biodiversity, and loss of access to recreation areas, not to mention the increased rates of respiratory diseases and cancer from exposure to coal dust. The mining of this coal will also release over 2 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere from combustion alone at near-by Longannet power station, directly contradicting the Scottish government’s targets to reduce emissions.
As environmentalists, the camp occupants made sure to leave the site as they found it, undamaged by their activities. This was unlike UK Coal – with felling operations complete, huge areas of birch and oak forest – designated ancient woodland – have been lost as well as the wildlife within it, which included nesting birds, bats and red squirrels. On top of this, the camp is conducting an ongoing investigation into allegations, supported by local witnesses, that fire damage to Great Crested Newt areas was carried out on behalf of UK Coal to facilitate the newts forced migration as a condition of planning consent.
Fiona Cooper from the camp said “We will be opposing more open cast coal sites in Scotland, as well as supporting other communities fighting the unsustainable and damaging growth of the coal industry in the UK, such as the Huntington Lane protest site in Shropshire.”
The camp would like to thank the people of Oakley and surrounding areas for their support throughout the occupation, and remind UK Coal of its obligations to restore the site when it is finished with it.