- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

LONDON (AP) - British police arrested 114 people Monday on suspicion of planning a disruptive environmental protest at a coal-fired power station.

They were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant, Nottinghamshire Police said. The group was arrested in a nighttime raid by 200 police officers at a primary school near the plant, 120 miles (190 kilometers) northwest of London.

The force said police believed some of those arrested were linked to a group of protesters who have set up “climate camps” at other power plants, at Heathrow Airport in 2007 and in central London during this month’s G-20 summit.

Such protests have been peaceful.

Police said they believed the protests would have posed a serious threat to the safe operation of the power station.

Its owner, German energy company E.On, said the protest “could have been a very dangerous and irresponsible attempt to disrupt an operational power plant.”

“While we understand that everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things,” the company said in a statement.

Environmental groups have previously targeted coal-fired power plants to draw attention to climate change. In April 2007, 11 members of a group called Eastside Climate Action were arrested after chaining themselves to buildings and equipment on the Ratcliffe site.

Eastside Climate Action said it was not involved in the latest protest. Camp for Climate Action, one of the groups that organized earlier climate-camp protests, refused to comment.

British police are facing criticism over their handling of demonstrations. The police complaints watchdog is currently investigating the death of a man during a G-20 protest in London on April 1. Video footage showed a police officer hitting and pushing Ian Tomlinson, who died of an apparent heart attack soon after.

Last month, Parliament’s human rights committee accused police of increasingly using heavy-handed tactics against protesters, including anti-terrorism legislation and the “intrusive” filming of demonstrators.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide