UK climate protesters fail to stop E.ON output
KINGSNORTH (Reuters) - Climate protesters scaled security fences to enter the site of a coal-fired power station in southeast England on Saturday but German firm E.ON, which runs the plant, said output had not been disrupted.
The protesters oppose plans for two new coal units at the facility, which will also be operated by E.ON.
Police said they arrested about 50 people during the protest, which began as a peaceful march but descended into violent scuffles with police in riot gear as activists raced at the site's perimeter fences.
Four protesters got into the grounds of the power station before being arrested. Others were detained on a nearby river as they tried to access the site by raft, boat or kayak.
The demonstrators had aimed to stop output for a day but failed.
"We've had to increase security at the power station and members of staff have been worried by what might happen to them," said an E.ON spokesman.
"The power station is generating. It's business as usual ... to the extent it can be on this extraordinary day."
The protesters say coal emits unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide, the gas held responsible for climate change.
"We just want to try and send a message to people that we don't want any more new coal ... it's something that's not going to help our future at all," said Helen Atkinson, 26, a medical photographer from Cumbria, northwest England.
E.ON argues emissions from the new units will be cleaner. It hopes to bury them underground using so-far commercially unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Protest organizers said about 1,000 people had gathered at a nearby field for a music-festival-like "Climate Camp", which has been running workshops on climate change all week.
Since the start of the camp, police have staged a 24-hour security operation involving between 350 and 1,400 police and civilian staff, at a cost of millions of pounds.
Some protesters called the police tactics heavy-handed. At one point, protesters clashed with officers who tried to arrest a man after he was seen ripping a police barrier tape.
Television cameras captured police in riot gear and brandishing batons scuffling with protesters who in turn pushed against police shields.
E.ON, which plans to close the existing plant at Kingsnorth in 2015 and replace it with the new facility, said it was a partner in the world's largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent and it was also building one of the world's largest heat and power plants close to Kingsnorth.
(Reporting by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Catherine Evans)