'Rebel Clown Army' Takes Control at Opencast Site in Climate Change Demo
Byline: By Sarah Miloudi Western Mail
Protesters dressed as clowns and polar bears forced work on a controversial opencast mine to be abandoned yesterday. The group, who included the author and campaigner George Monbiot, chained themselves to machinery at the Ffos-y-Fran site in Merthyr Tydfil, bringing work to a halt.
He and 30 other protesters entered the site at 9am yesterday morning, and a group - known as the Aberystwyth Rebel Clown Army - forced diggers to stop work by dancing around in front and waving feather dusters, in protest at the site's environmental impact.
The group then climbed onto the industrial vehicles and took over pieces of site machinery. Many of the protesters refused to leave the site despite being warned by police that they could face arrest.
Speaking at the site, Mr Monbiot said, "I am here for two reasons. Firstly, the Government is currently negotiating over climate change and this mine contradicts everything it says it is trying to do.
"The mine will dig out approximately seven million tonnes of coal, but give 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - equivalent to the emissions of 35 million people every year.
"Secondly, it is devastating for the quality of life of the locals."
The Ffros-y-Fran project has faced strong opposition from local residents and environmental campaigners since planning permission was first granted two years ago.
The mine is being built 36 meters from local's homes and, writing in a London-based paper, the 44-year-old author said the controversial project was only given the go-ahead in Wales because the National Assembly and local council was "dominated" by Labour Party members.
In other parts of the country, such as Scotland, a 500m buffer zone must be built around coal mines, which prevents building in close proximity of houses.
Wales does not have the same regulations, prompting the author to say developers could "do what they liked" when it came to creating new mines in Wales.
Mr Monbiot claimed locals' concerns had been "dismissed," and insisted someone had to stand against the environmental harm the mine could cause.
The author, who lives in Machynlleth, in Powys, was one of approximately 30 people dressed as polar bears, clowns and "environmental inspectors" who staged the day-long protest, while 20 local people watched from the perimeter of the 1,00 acre site. …