Communities vs Coal

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From the Coal Action Network, one of the speakers at Land, Communities and the Ecological Crisis: The impact of mining.

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Together, we stopped a coal expansion in the Pont Valley, Durham UK. Now let’s help tell the story.

Support ‘Finite’: A documentary about communities vs coal

Finite is an immersive feature-length documentary following frontline communities in conflict with opencast coal mines and the forces behind them.

Featuring an intimate portrayal of the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley of over two and half years, the story of the fight against Banks Group in County Durham will finally be told. While in Germany, activists risk their lives to defend the 12,000 year old Hambach Forest from being obliterated by Europe’s biggest coal mine. Communities fighting coal on the front lines don’t have the same access to the media as coal companies, and don’t often get to tell their own stories.

Please support the crowdfunder to help make it happen!

June Davison from Pont Valley, County Durham said “We lost so much in our campaign against opencast mining, but we also gained so much. We showed what communities can achieve when we work together and fight back, and now our campaign is now part of a global movement. Our story in Finite can inspire other people to stand up against power and stop needless destruction like we have endured. We need change now more than ever.”

Protecting wild land and empowering communities

This is one of the projects that JMT is involved in supporting. This community buy-out is forced to raise 6 million pounds to realise their dream because the current landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch, despite being one of the richest men in Scotland, insists on getting market value.

Mike Daniels, Head of Policy and Land Management of the John Muir Trust, led the second seminar in our series. His outstanding presentation was followed by insightful and informed questions and discussion. Here is the slide show to go with his presentation and soon the whole session will be available on video in this post.

Seminar One: Climate change and the ecological crisis: land use in the UK

Campaign that the speaker, Paul de Sylva, is involved in

We held our first seminar in the Land, Communities and the Ecological Crisis last night (July 28th). Here is a record of the meeting. It has not been edited so it will not be professional but then you get the authentic experience!


Presentation Recording


Land use and fava beans. If they’re good enough for the Egyptians, why aren’t they good enough for us!

fields of fava beans

Rambling through the countryside of Kent and Essex in the spring and summer months, one gets to know a lot about what crops are grown. In addition to the fields of wheat and rapeseed, there are many fields devoted to growing the fava bean, 170,000 hectares in the UK as a whole. The enterprising walker may well stop and pick a few because there are so many of them!

Most of the pulses we eat in the UK are imported. The fava bean is one that has been grown here since the Iron Age.  Delicious, nutritious and good for the soil, fava beans are a variety of broad bean, Vicia faba, left to ripen and dry before harvest.

So why don’t these beans feature in our markets and shops? The answer: they are exported to Egypt where they feature prominently in many key dishes, or else are fed to livestock in the UK!

The seminar being held on Tuesday July 28th  will be looking at land use in the UK. We know that 70% of land is used for agriculture and the majority of that for raising livestock or growing crops to feed livestock. With the need to reduce land for livestock for ecological reasons it seems that growing the fava bean for our direct consumption would make a sensible and sustainable use of land. It will also help with achieving food sovereignty.  A good idea?,around%20170%2C000%20hectares%20of%20land.

Protecting wild land and empowering communities through land management: lessons from Scotland

Our second seminar on August 4th, 7 pm, will be led by Mike Daniels, the head of policy and land management of the John Muir Trust (JMT). The JMT is based in Scotland and has purchased a number of key properties which it manages with the aim of conserving and promoting wild land. However, their unique approach is founded within engagement in partnerships with other organisations, addressing policy on issues such as wind farms and land reform, while working closely with communities to ensure that conservation efforts enhance rather than alienate communities. Mike will focus on two developing projects: Langholm Estate in southern Scotland where the community is working on buying this former grouse moor with the aim of managing it for conservation and rewilding. He will also discuss the Yearnstane project close to Glasgow which involves large urban communities fringing a wild land area.

Yearnstane Project

Losing One’s Land: Effects of Climate Change Expressed in Poetry

Two poets and climate activists, Aka Niviana from Greenland, and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands, teamed up to write and perform the poem Rise in the fjords and glaciers of Greenland, with the help of glaciologist Jason Box who travels to Greenland every year to take measurements of how fast the ice is melting there. Greenland loses 300 billion tons of ice per year, and as a result, Pacific islands including the Marshall Islands are disappearing under the sea.

“This science is uncontroversial. But science alone can’t make change, because it appeals only to the hemisphere of the brain that values logic and reason. We’re also creatures of emotion, intuition, spark – which is perhaps why we should mount more poetry expeditions, put more musicians on dying reefs, make sure that novelists can feel the licking heat of wildfire.”

— Bill McKibben

Excerpt from Rise by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Aka Niviana

The very same beasts

That now decide

Who should live

And who should die …

We demand that the world see beyond

SUVs, ACs, their pre-package convenience

Their oil-slicked dreams, beyond the belief

That tomorrow will never happen

And yet there’s a generosity to their witness – a recognition that whoever started the trouble, we’re now in it together.

Let me bring my home to yours

Let’s watch as Miami, New York,

Shanghai, Amsterdam, London

Rio de Janeiro and Osaka

Try to breathe underwater …

None of us is immune.

Life in all forms demands

The same respect we all give to money …

So each and every one of us

Has to decide

If we




Land, Communities and the Ecological Crisis Seminar Series

This summer, we will be facilitating a seminar series that focuses on the issues of land, communities and the ecological crisis to help develop ideas and hear your views. These seminars will explore an understanding of the national context of land use and management in the UK, as well as local Scottish case studies that demonstrate how rethinking land management can empower local communities and deliver climate justice. We also appreciate that the UK is embedded in an international context in respect to land, due to its history as a colonial power, and its role in driving international demand for extracted resources. Our final seminar will explore extractive mining internationally and the relationship of the UK to international land injustice, and how policy changes at home can help communities abroad.

The first seminar is on Tuesday, July 28th at 7 pm.

Climate change and the ecological crisis: land use in the UK

This seminar will be led by a speaker from the Friends of the Earth who will address the question of what land use changes are necessary in the UK in order to deal with the threats to our environment. He will highlight the problems created by the fragmentation and despoliation of urban, suburban and rural land, which have been fuelled by hyper-mobility, urbanisation and poor land use practices.  He will examine how harmful agricultural and forestry practices have contributed to the degradation of the environment. This session will give us the ideas to help develop an effective strategy for change.

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The third in the series is coming up on the 18th of August.

This seminar will be led by speakers from the London Mining Network and their partners, including speakers from Yes to Life, No to Mines and the Anti-Coal Network. We will examine how global mining corporations devastate the environment and the health and well-being of local communities. We will also consider how this relates to the UK. Not only is mining still an issue in this country, for example through fracking, but the UK has effectively exported many of the problems mining brings to other countries. Communities in the global south have to deal with the ecological, health and social consequences of a brutal mining industry, many of these mining corporations being based in the UK.

This session will place our struggle for land rights firmly in the international context, facilitating a movement for land rights that challenges the colonial legacy and is based on solidarity.

Public Consultation on Environmental Land Management scheme


The government has extended the consultation until July 31st. Rewilding Britain is calling on people to make sure that rewilding is part of the strategy. There may be other things as well that we would like to include. Here is information from Rewilding Britain about the consultation and also links to the appropriate documents.


London Mining Network solidarity with Black Lives Matter


Cecil Rhodes

The London Mining Network works to support communities around the world who are facing devastation from London-based mining companies. These global corporations put profit above all else, taking the land and wrecking  livelihoods and the environment. The massive land grab that was colonialism continues to have an impact around the world. Challenging this colonial legacy and supporting communities in their struggles to own and control their own land is an important part of the movement for land justice.

Crops Not Shops: For Health and Food Security


The pandemic has caused many people to question how food is grown and who controls its production and distribution. Capitalist agricultural practices are a major cause of climate change and food insecurity around the world, including the UK. Good quality food, like housing, is a basic necessity and should be available to all. Given that the current food industry is about profits rather than needs, many people have begun to take control ofboth food production and consumption. To do this gaining access to land is vital.

Already pre-lockdown there were a number of alternative food projects including community gardens, organic city farms and community kitchens, but with the inadequacies of the supermarket system and the hardship endured by many people, the concept of DIY food has taken off even more. This article showcases Crops NOT Shops and is based on information from the blog, Alternative Estuary:

Crops NOT Shops is a guerrilla gardening project that is made up of a fast growing community of people stepping away from the unsatisfactory and unreliable retail food supply supermarket cash removal machines to taking control of their own living spaces, food and diet, by investing in growing and managing their own food supply. They recognise that: “a huge foundation of system change lies in what we eat, where we get it, how to ensure it is in permanent supply, and, costs as little financially as possible”.

Mission Statement and Introduction:

“The project has been running just a couple of months but has already unified 800 active community members and is growing by the day. They have just started their 14th community site since January 2020, there is a vibrant seed, seedling, knowledge and work team sharing group that are also establishing contacts with other similar and related groups such as “Food Communities” , “Foraging UK” and “Grow Cheshunt”.

Their principles are:

Shared Food

Ethical growing

Chemical and cruelty free

Shared Knowledge

Community Support Network

The more free food available in the community also means less cash clogging up checkout registers in your supermarkets. In line with the obvious we can take from this being that food, power, fuel, shelter are the core components to life that tie us to work , school, education, taxation slavery has not gone unnoticed by the powers that be”.The Covid 19 pandemic motivated many people to get involved because clearly the government and supermarkets were not coping. Not only were shelves empty but with many people losing jobs and income the high prices of supermarkets made it difficult for people to feed themselves.

“We hit Brexit in January, traffic through the ports slowed and failed to complete their journeys, port delays, Dover and Calais were on full stop from January 16th doe to port blockages even and still we are experiencing delays into mid-May. Perishables were not making their delivery window, and, permit transport papers were not stamped. Highways England were tasked with managing the back log of traffic through the ports on this side of the channel. Yet the British press reported the reason for shelves running bare was due to pandemic hoarding and greed, seriously ?, How many times did you see that same photo of the overweight guy with two trolleys of toilet roll at Costco be used in the papers  up and down the country? The Government cannot be trusted manage retail food supply for the people. Here is a little more reading to check out:”

Growing food and finding ways to share this food among those who need it is a key form of mutual aid. It is a way of building united, resilient communities, the foundation for solidarity in other land struggles.

Want to set up your own sister group driving the change in your area? Here is the group page link for crops NOT shops: