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Ratcliffe on Trial

21 climate change activists face a Crown Court trial for defending the future of the planet.

Their crime: Planning to shut down the UK’s third largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Arrested in a night-time police raid on the eve of their attempt to shut down E.ON’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station, the defendants could face up to 3 months in prison for daring to act. RatcliffeOnTrial.org has been set up to to support them and communicate why they felt compelled to take direct action. Read the full story ».

“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

The Story and What happened.

In the early hours of April 14th 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 second 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.

Five of the defendants hadn’t decided whether to take part at the time of being arrested, but are still being dragged through a lengthy court process. Their trial takes place in January 2011.

The remaining 21 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.



1. Statement of Support

If you believe in the importance of acting on climate change, and the necessity of direct action, show your support by sending us a short statement we can publish here and elsewhere.

You can either email us your statement of support to info[at]ratcliffeontrial.org or, better still, write it on our Facebook Wall!

We’re keen to receive these from individuals and organisations.

2. Come to Court

Support in the courtroom is essential. It is very important that the public galleries are packed to show the strength of support for the defendants. If you can come to Nottingham, from 22nd November, for a day, week, or just half an hour, please do!

Email info[at]ratcliffeontrial.org for more information.

3. Donate

Can you help fund the Ratcliffe on Trial campaign?

Publicity materials, meeting space, travel costs and public events have all taken their toll on campaigners’ pockets. If you are in any position to donate, no matter how small or large an amount, you can do so by transferring funds to:

The Skint Fund
SC: 08-92-99
AN: 65385883

Or posting a cheque to:

The Skint Fund,
18 Stratford Street

In both cases, please drop us a quick email to notitfy us of your donation: info[at]ratcliffeonsoar.org

4. Organise a Fundraiser

One of the best ways to raise much needed cash for the cause is to organise a fundraiser in your locality. These have already proved to be a massive success in the past, and a lot of fun.

If you’re thinking of organising one drop us an email at info[at]ratcliffeonsoar.org and we can help publicise.

5. Follow them Online

They will be continually updating there website and blog in the weeks leading up to the trial, and throughout the trial itself: www.ratcliffeontrial.org

Subscribe to receive email alerts for there blog posts: http://ratcliffeontrial.org/subscribe/

Follow us them Twitter: www.twitter.com/ratcliffetrial

6. Spread the word

They  need your help to get people talking about this unique case. Tell everyone you know, look out for media coverage, and feel free to copy and paste anything from here http://ratcliffeontrial.org.

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