Climate Camp on common ground
PUBLISHED: 10:57 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 August 2010
PROTESTORS have set up camp on a common overlooking Lon_on s financial nerve centre in a bid to force a policy change on carbon trading, writes Martin Sawden. Hundreds of Climate Camp protestors set up an enclave on Blackheath Common for a week-long sit
PROTESTORS have set up camp on a common overlooking Lon_on's financial nerve centre in a bid to force a policy change on carbon trading, writes Martin Sawden.
Hundreds of Climate Camp protestors set up an enclave on Blackheath Common for a week-long sit in which began on Thursday.
Triangular metal frames, some 25ft high, were erected with banners, tents already amassing as visitors swooped on a location that had been kept a closely guarded secret.
Canary Wharf, a symbol of London's hub, the world's financial centre could be seen clearly.
The atmosphere was buoyant and relaxed as Jess West addressed several hundred people which is certain to become thousands now people know the location.
Geeing up the crowds, Ms West announced: "We came, we swooped, we're camping. We can see the sky scrapers gleaming in the distance. This common has 600 years' tradition of radical dissent and protest. Wat Tyler led a protest from here against unjust systems oppressing people.
"We are going to have a campaigners' revolt. Carbon trading does not work, it does not fight climate change. We are about to start the best camp so far and we want the world to see so we can tackle climate change together and take action."
She then rallied the crowd and said: "Give me a WHOOP for the swoop," which the crowd happily did, then she said: "Give me a HOORAH for action," and again the crowd, growing by the minute, obliged.
Kevin Smith, one of the organisers for the week's demonstration said: "The reason we chose this site was to highlight the link between financial and climate crisis. It's not just about runways or power stations but economic growth preventing us from dealing with climate change. Government departments keep engaging in carbon trading and we are saying that this logic simply does not stack up."
Police took the decision to allow the camp to establish, putting into action Operation Bentham.
Metropolitan Police held a meeting with other emergency services and Greenwich and Lewisham councils to assess what the camp's impact on service provision and the community. A neighbourhood-style policing team was put in place.
Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, of Operation Bentham, said: "What we have made clear through our dialogue with Climate Camp representatives is that our policing response will be proportionate to the situation.
"Not knowing where the camp would be in advance made it impossible for us to work with the local authority or emergency services to sort out some very practical things. This work is now ongoing.
"I'd like to repeat our request that they talk to us about any protests they are planning so we can ensure a proportionate policing response and minimise any further impact on Londoners."
She said policing levels in Greenwich and Lewisham have not been affected.