Solidarity flowed between UK and South African communities resisting coal mining this week at a rally to reject the Druridge Bay coal mine. If the mine is stopped, it could herald the end of UK open cast coal mining. Good news as climate change knows no borders!
The campaign to stop the Highthorn Mine has been long, intense and full of twists and turns.
After initially being approved by Northumberland County Council, the UK Government hass ‘called in’ the mine for another planning inquiry due to concerns that the project is not compatible with the UK’s climate targets, its plan to phase-out coal by 2025 or the Paris Climate Accord, to which the UK is a signatory.
Members of YLNM joined Druridge Bay residents for a rally, organised by Save Druridge and Friends of the Earth UK, on the day the new inquiry started to show solidarity.
If this inquiry stops the Highthorn Mine due to climate change concerns, it could mean the end of new coal mining in the UK- good news for the whole world, and especially most-affected communities who have done little to cause climate change. Climate change does not respect borders.
Local wildlife also turned out to show support for the cause… Druridge Bay residents are deeply concerned that the mine will destroy and pollute habitat critical to beloved species like otters, owls, orchids and pink-footed geese.
On the day of the rally, coal made up just 1.2% of the UK’s energy consumption. Over 17% was provided by solar. This dirty fuel is on its way out of use. Now is not the time to open a new mine!
Banks Mining is seeking to justify its mine (which will only have a life span of 5 years…) by saying it will create local jobs. But there are no jobs on a dead planet and coal is leading us down that dark path.
Over 100 people gathered for the afternoon rally to show their opposition to the mine and their love for the stunning coastal landscape of Druridge Bay.
“A new coal mine in the UK would provide legitimacy for mining companies to continue to exploit and devastate Africa .”
Yes to Life, No to Mining’s Regional Coordinator for Northern Europe, Hannibal Rhoades, shared the powerful letter of solidarity written by South African communities resisting coal with the crowds assembled at a lunchtime rally. The letter will also be read out in the planning inquiry itself, and copies will be given to the planning inspector, the mining company and Northumberland County Council
News crews turned up to film the day’s events as the potentially landmark planning inquiry got underway. The Druridge Bay inquiry offers the UK, a nation that bears a disproportionate responsibility for climate change, and whose wealth, empire and influence have been built on reckless fossil fuel extraction, to show leadership in responding to climate change, rather than causing it.
“For the land and the future generations, no desecration, save Druridge Bay!”
A local choir, formed by local opposed to the Highthorn Mine, serenaded the crowds. Music is the fuel for our struggles, and it’s far more powerful, more wonderful and more lasting than coal.
“Harry has a problem. It’s a very serious problem. Harry loves to dig holes.”
Former UK climate envoy John Ashton addressed those gathered at the rally to reiterate that continuing to mine coal as the impacts of climate change are felt around the globe is madness. He told Harry Banks, owner of Banks Mining, to stop digging holes and leave Druridge Bay alone!
Deeply moved by the letter of solidarity from South African communities resisting coal mining in Mfolozi, KwaZulu Natal, a number of people at the rally shared messages of solidarity with the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation:
“I want to say thank you for such a beautiful letter. It was really inspiring and I wish you all the best with your struggle.”
-V.Chadwick, Northumberland resident
“Global poverty and climate change are related. Thanks for your message, I found it very inspiring. I almost found myself in tears. I will be making a submission to this inquiry on the impacts of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.”
-Dr D. Golding, Retired Professor of Biology at the University of Newcastle
“As I read the letter from South African communities about the open cast mining in Druridge Bay, I very much agree with what they said, in that we should not establish any coal mine anywhere in the world. England is an internationally influential country and one of the leading figures in environmental conservation, so it will be very contradictory if Banks (mining company) gets the green light for opening this open cast mine. And the decision that we make here in the UK will not be just affecting the local community, but also the global community in the long term. Although we still have time to save the environment and make changes, there is no time to lose and the last thing that we want to do is build another open cast mine!”
-Amy Fok, Biology student at the University of Newcastle
“The Coal Action Network is fighting open cast coal mining and coal fired power stations in the UK. The letter that was written from comrades in South Africa fighting open cast to the Highthorn inquiry was really brilliant to hear and to see how these struggles are linked up. We are facing the same problems of dust, noise, lack of consent, lack of community empowerment, health problems, water problems, the list goes on. It’s really important that we show solidarity with you and it is brilliant that you are able to show solidarity with us. This shows that this struggle is global and it’s not a case of rich nations helping the poorer nations, but that we all need to fight together for our own futures and to strengthen our campaigns. Thanks for the letter and I look forward to working with you in the future.”
-Anne Harris, Coal Action Network, UK
“It was my privilege to read out your powerful letter at the rally we held outside of the mining planning inquiry today. Thank you so much for expressing your solidarity with us here in the UK. Your voices and concerns were heard and appreciated by all campaigning against this unwanted, unneeded coal mine and everyone was keen to send solidarity back to you- to say YES to clean water, air, land and lasting livelihoods for future generations, NO to Ibutho Coal’s Fuleni Mine and Phansi Petmin! All struggles are connected, and the more we connect with one another, the stronger we are. In the coming weeks, your letter will be submitted as evidence in the inquiry that will decide the future of the Highthorn coal mine. If this mine is stopped it could mean the end of all new UK coal mines. Let us hope we can make history together!”
–Hannibal Rhoades, Yes to Life, No to Mining Network