James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Extinction Rebellion protesters blockade open cast mine in County Durham
26 February 2020, 08:21
Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked the entrance to an open cast mine in opposition to plans to expand it.
There were heated scenes as a protester tried to get under a barrier at the entrance to the Bradley site near Dipton, County Durham, but was stopped by security guards patrolling with dogs.
Extinction Rebellion campaigners chanted "We are non-violent", while the man was prevented from getting under the fence.
Four campaigners were dressed as miners' canaries and sat in large wire cages, blocking the entrance to the site.
One, who declined to give his name, said: "If things got unsustainable for life underground the canaries down the mine used to peg it before the miners did.
"Here we are, trying to stop the coal mine because there's no need for coal."
Extinction Rebellion has promised three days of action at the site, heralding 40 days of protest during the Christian period of Lent which begins today.
Around 50 protesters were at the site, with Extinction Rebellion predicting more will come throughout the day.
They are calling on Durham County Council and the Government to reject the Banks Group's application to expand the mine, ahead of a planning committee meeting next month.
The campaigners said that extending the mining operation went against the commitment to phase out coal in 2025 and to become carbon neutral by 2050."
Jackie Scollen, a local resident and member of Extinction Rebellion Durham, said: "Durham County Council have declared a climate emergency.
"Now they need to show us that they mean it."
Durham Police was monitoring the protest and warned drivers that the A692 could be affected.