Dancing and Coal Mining

Land in which to dance, grow and live

Conflicts with Coal

If you follow the coal leaving your region, Cesar, it first heads north on the train to Santa Marta on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. It gets loaded on to ships and exported. Some of it eventually arrives in a place called Avonmouth, at the port of Bristol. It gets loaded back on to trains, and these trains pass through my neighbourhood, just 200m from my house, on route to a power station called Didcot. We are not such strangers. The impact of the mines on your communities is part of our story too. People in the UK want to learn from you.”

Young people faces light up with curiosity and interest as I introduced the UK Coal Action Network and explained the intention of my  short visit – how might we create solidarity between each other. Older and younger people generously and passionately shared so much with me, and with us.

They told stories of their childhood and previous generations, we shared food and they told me about the importance of food in their culture, we visited allotments and their collective lands and picked curious shaped sun filled fruits, I was invited by the kids of the house I was staying at to go to their drumming and dancing practice, we went to early morning meetings at the college to take part in debates on the future of agriculture and mining in their region, we went to late night council meetings to get organised, and to all night music festivals filled with foam and water.

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Across these rich hot days, my senses picked up the vital importance of land to peoples wellbeing, and I understood that coal mining doesn’t just impact health and the local and global environment but that it is in conflict with peoples whole and only possible way of life. As part of the landless people in the UK who lost most of our common land two hundred years ago, their stories also gives insight in to our own histories and present day issues. “Displaced and scratching food from the dust on the edge of the cities is not life” says Nubia, from La Sierra Community Community Council.

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Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing some of the stories people wanted to tell to those people in Inglaterra, to complement the stories that representatives of Communities displaced by mining in La Guajira, Colombia, will be sharing across the UK as part of the Dirty Coal Tour.

“The whole valley flows, take one piece out of it and it is broken.”

wagonwayThe final week of the Bradley opencast saw a damning presentation from a local farmer, which disarmed the coal company. The ecologists view of the site was countered by excellent knowledge of local residents who know the site. The bitter disagreement about whether there are bell pits on the site continued and the transport expert tried to tell us that more HGVs on the road would not be a problem. Their planning expert said that footfalls on the footpaths were not high, whilst the locals countered that it’s tranquillity is the attraction and that 5 people a day is important.
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Fight for the Kites. Bradley Inquiry Continues

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This week saw many more powerful contributions from the local community. On the evening session more than 55 residents and concerned parties came to watch and support PVN. Presentations were of high quality and too numerous to be listed.

Dr. Harbinson explained the damage which would be done to the vulnerable, re-introduced, red kite population. Red kites are seen foraging on the site on an almost daily basis. The kites were introduced in 2004 as part of a national reintroduction program, and sadly this area has been the least successful area. ‘Crucially there is a failure of the birds to extend their range beyond the core area of the Derwent Valley.’ This emphasises the necessity to make no changes which could adversely affect the birds.

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Indonesian Activist Joins dirty Coal Tour

dteWe are pleased to announce that The Dirty Coal Tour will be joined by Pius Ginting from Friends of the Earth Indonesia. BHP Billiton, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange are plan to cause devastation in Indonesia, in addition to the countries they are already exploiting. Thanks to down to Earth and War on want for making his trip possible.

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NOTT Again

The second appeal for the application at Bradley, near Dipton, County Durham is well under way, with UK Coal Surface Mining Limited admitting that they have to sell the site and so will not be operating it.

So far local residents and members of NOTT (No Opencast Today or Tomorrow) part of the Pont Valley Network have made representations to the hearing in several sittings.

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