Posts Tagged ‘environmental protest’

XR, Drax and Knives

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion‘s occupation of Central London was in its third day on Wednesday 17th April bringing traffic in the area to a standstill. And as there were no buses through the middle of London and those in the area around only moving at snail’s pace through near gridlock, the only way to move around was on foot or by tube. I chose to walk from Waterloo to Grocer’s Hall although the Waterloo and City line would have got me there in a fraction of the time so I could walk through XR’s ‘Garden Bridge’ still in place on Waterloo Bridge.

There were workshops and events taking place on the bridge, and only bicycles and people walking could cross. And although there was a strong police presence, while I was there they were simply standing around and watching, although I was told by the protesters there had been arrests earlier in the day, and there were people locked on below the lorry which was being used as a stage to make this more difficult to move.

Axe Drax protesters against Drax, a huge power station in Yorkshire, were as usual protesting outside the Drax AGM taking place in Grocer’s Hall in the City of London against both the incredible output of greenhouse gases it produces and the environmental damage both from the coal it burns, imported from open-cast mines which are destroying the environment and communities abroad and the wood, largely from destroying American forests by environmentally disastrous clear-felling. Drax burns more wood than the total UK production each year, and in 2018 this produced over 13 million tonnes of CO2. But nonsensical rules on environmental subsidies means that in 2018 Drax got £789 million in subsidies taken from surcharges in our electricity bills for this massive climate changing pollution. And Drax was planning to increase its pollution by building the largest gas powered generating station in the UK.

I took the tube from Bank to go back to Westminster where XR were still blocking Parliament Square and the roads around, with activities going on in and around the square and tents filling much of Broad Sanctuary.

The Axe Drax protesters had moved from the Draz AGM and were holding a protest at the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution which make Drax and its huge pollution viable. These subsidies should be used as they were intended to promote genuinely renewable low-pollution energy energy sources such as solar, geothermal, wind and wave power rather than, as at Drax, increasing global heating. A few from XR had come along to support them.

Finally in a completely unconnected protest I joined the campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of “mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones” supported by other campaigners, who had come to Downing Street calling for the community to unite and demanded more urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

It would be hard not to feel their pain, but to demand stiffer penalties for knife and gun crime is not the answer, as we know this has not worked and simply results in the criminalisation of more in the community. But they also call for other measures some of which would certainly help in cutting these killings, mainly of teenagers and young males.


They want really determined and coordinated putting into action of the recently announced public health approach to knife crime. This has to include an end to cuts to local services including youth work and their restoration to pre-austerity levels, more adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability.

After the speeches the protesters marched the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented two wreaths to the police and held a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists.

They then moved on to Westminster Bridge where they sat down for another lengthy rally with more speeches by relatives of those who have been killed.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid!

Monday, April 12th, 2021

On a day when some of our Covid restrictions are being eased and when more people are apparently thinking about overseas holidays, it’s perhaps appropriate to think about the impact of flying on the future of our planet and the need to curb the exponential growth of air travel, particularly by the increasing number of ‘frequent flyers’. Personally I signed the Flight Free UK pledge not to fly in 2020 – and events later made that easy to keep – and I’ve signed up again for 2021.

Back in April 12th 2015 I spent a pleasant day in Harmondsworth, where a day of action was taking place against the revived plans for a third long runway for Heathrow Airport. A few years earlier I’d covered the local celebrations in neighbouring Sipson after building the third runway had been ruled out because of its environmental impact.

Of course nothing has changed to lessen that environmental impact, but years of continued lobbying on a grand scale, including setting up a fake PR organisation with spurious surveys – and a short-sighted and biased commission to expand aviation in the UK led the government to put the runway back on the table again, despite the growing awareness of the need to urgently tackle the environmental crisis which the planet is currently rushing headlong into.

Harmondsworth is one of the Middlesex villages surrounding what in pre-war days had been the village of Heath Row, full of orchards and market gardens, that I cycled around in my youth in the 1950s, when the airport was smaller and less obtrusive with many less flights and those mainly be smaller and quieter aircraft. Back then it was possible to enjoy the peace and quiet and largely rural nature of the area, even in those places such as Longford and Colnbrook directly under the flightpath. Although the Comet began to change things so far as noise was concerned it was only really around 1960 with the widespread use of the Boeing 707 that peace was definitively shattered.

Harmondsworth is still very much a village, a small place on the edge of the River Colne, with no through traffic in its centre which has a small village green, two pubs, a fine church and the Grade I listed Great Barn, the largest medieval barn in England to have survived largely and remarkably intact – and was recently saved from dereliction by a local campaign which led to its purchase and restoration by English Heritage in 2011.

It was good to be able to visit the barn again – volunteers now keep it open on selected days – and to be able to wander through what John Betjeman described as “The Cathedral of Middlesex”. Later the Datchet Border Morris performed in the barn, and also outside the pub and in the recreation ground where a tree was planted. The Morris dancers I think give a greater sense of its scale.

Local politicians including John McDonnell who has been the area’s MP since 1997, but also all but one of the candidates (except one) standing for the seat in the then forthcoming election came along to speak at the rally on the airport’s proposed new boundary, just a few yards south of the village green – and including most of the housing in the village.

The one missing candidate also supported the rally and opposed airport expansion but there had been a mix-up over dates which made him miss the event. As Labour, the UKIP, Green and Conservative candidates all spoke to oppose any airport expansion, as did several local residents, and campaigner John Stewart of HACAN, and the five polar bears who had recently protested inside one of the Heathrow terminals came along with their banner ‘Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid‘.

Heathrow Villages fight for survival


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Brasilia 2007

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Cyclists protest. Critical Mass 10th anniversary, South Bank, London, April 2004.

Thirteen years ago in 2007 I was not in London but in Brasilia, where I had gone for the opening of my show on environmental protests in London, part of Foto Arte 2007, a huge photography event that stretches on for 3 months with over 20 international shows and more than a hundred individual and group shows from Brazil, apparently in 57 locations across the city. The theme of the festival was ‘Natureza, Meio Ambiente e Sustentabilidade‘ or in English, ‘Nature, The Environment and Sustainability’ and my contribution representing the UK was a set of 24 colour pictures of environmental protests in London – including a picture of Brazilians leading the last mile of a 1000 mile Christian Aid ‘Cut the Carbon’ march past Tower Bridge.

My work was in show in a local community centre in one of the ‘Quadra’ which make up the living quarters of the city around its central core. My show was backed by the British Embassy and they had also arranged for me to give a lecture – and provided simultaneous translation for my Portuguese speaking audience.

‘No Fumes Here’. World Naked Bike Ride, London, June 2006.

Because I was very aware of the planned nature of Brasilia, a new capital city built from scratch, which I described as “really the ultimate flowering of the modern movement in architecture and planning, planned by Lúcio Costa (1902-98) and with many buildings by the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, 100 on December 15, 2007 and still working” I had decided my talk would be about my own photographs around London and more generally about “the photography of the urban environment and some of the changing ideas in planning, and how the invention of the car had completely altered our cities. Ideas about Garden Cities at the end of the nineteenth century had been overtaken by urban sprawl.”

‘London Underwater 2050 Tour of the G8 Climate Criminals’, European Social Forum, London, October 2004.

During my stay I also got to see all the other shows then taking place, and also was treated to several of the finest restaurants in the city (including a lunch with the Ambassador and the director of the festival) and was taken around the various sites of the city – including the many Niemeyer buildings by a daughter of one of Costa’s team of planners. It was an exciting few days, though very stressful at times.

One of Niemeyer’s most famous buildings, the cathedral in Brasilia – Fuji FinePix F31fd

I’d known I would have a busy time with little chance for any serious photography and had taken with me just a small pocketable digital camera, a 6Mp Fuji FinePix F31fd, and used it as a notebook during my stay. A few of the almost a thousand pictures I took are on My London Diary, but there are many more which I now find of some interest, and perhaps I’ll upload more onto Flikr shortly.

Uncle Sam’ as the Grim Reaper in Trafalgar Square, Kyoto Climate March, London, February 2005

I wrote quite a few posts about the visit here on >Re:PHOTO, including brief review of some of the other exhibitions in Foto Arte 2007, starting with one just before I caught the plane, Foto Arte 2007 Brasilia with my full set of 24 pictures and continuing after I arrived home and into January 2008.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Tax Rebellion

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Travelling around London as I do is often frustrating, with traffic often blocking the streets rather than moving through them. If I had any sense I would have picked up my folding bike, a Brompton, and took it with me to get to this protest at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, more or less next to Tower Bridge.

My journey had started badly, with my train into London arriving around 25 minutes late – impressive for a journey which normally only takes 35 minutes. If I’d brought the bike I could have jumped on it and still got to City Hall on time, and if I’d been thinking more clearly I would have rushed down to the Jubilee line station to take a train to London Bridge, leaving me with just a short walk.

But when I’d planned the journey I’d given myself plenty of time, and the bus had two advantages. First my National bus pass meant it was free, and secondly it took me almost to the doorstep of where I was going so I decided to keep to my plan and take a bus. It was a bad call, and as I waited longer and longer at the stop I wondered whether to give up and go back for the tube, but finally the bus arrived and I got on. The first half mile was fine, but then we hit more traffic.

I ran up the path towards the protest, and saw the die-in starting from a couple of hundred yards away. I hadn’t missed it completely but it would have been rather better to have arrived and been available to photograph the start of the event.

The protest was to declare a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse. They want a citizen’s assembly to re-write the London Plan to stop all infrastructure projects polluting London’s air and invest in measures to cut carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles

Many of London’s problems were made much worse by the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher back in 1986, leaving the city without any proper overall authority. The GLC under Ken Livingstone had made a good start in improving public transport in the city, but things more or less came to a halt, only to pick up again when he returned as Mayor with the newly formed GLA in 2000. Rail privatisation in 1994 made matters worse, with so many different companies responsible for overground services in the area – and recent franchisees seem even less competent than their predecessors.

The development of London in most respects also took a setback with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor, who was able to claim the kudos for Livingstone’s cycle hire scheme, but was generally ineffectual, as well as wasting time and considerable money on a garden bridge that served no purpose and few wanted.

Progress with better cycling facilities has been slow, though much of the blame for this lies with the boroughs rather than the GLA. Some boroughs have been clearly anti-cyclist, and a strong lobby from cab drivers organisations has opposed innovation. Progress has been very piecemeal.

The Green Party has of course been pushing for better cycle facilities and other changes that would make London a healthier place, and both Sian Berry and Caroline Russell spoke. There were also protesters against the Silvertown Tunnel, which will greatly increase traffic on both sides of the river, particularly in Greenwich. This has now been given the go-ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan who seems to have rather less concern for the environment even than his predecessor.

I don’t know how successful – if at all – the tax boycott has been, but I’ve heard nothing about it since. I think it would take rather more than this single protest, where many of those present will not have been London council tax payers, to get such a boycott going on a scale large enough to have any real effect.

XR London Tax rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Anglo American

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

I’d gone to the QEII Centre in Westminster to photograph one protest outside the AGM of London-listed mining company Anglo American, and found that there were two taking place and sharing the space not entirely happily.

I’d known well in advance that the London Mining Network were going to be there and hold a vigil because of the “unimaginable damage to communities and the planet” caused by Anglo American “through its disregard for human rights, the environmental devastation caused by its projects, and its neo-colonial policies in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, South Africa and elsewhere.”

Protesting together with them were people representing groups in some of those countries, particularly Colombia, as well as Medact, health professionals for a safer, fairer & better world, many of whom volunteer to work abroad including in areas affected by the activities of Anglo American. And among the protesters were several who had bought a single share so as to be entitled to go into the AGM and question the activities of the company in the meeting.

But there is no booking system for protests – and for static protests there is even no requirement to inform the police, though this is necessary for marches to be legal. And another group had come and set up before them on the spot they had hoped to occupy.

As it says in the search description for their web site, “Anglo American is a globally diversified mining business. Our portfolio spans diamonds (De Beers), platinum, copper, iron ore and manganese, metallurgical …” (the rest of their activities are masked by the character limit, so you can finish the sentence how you like.)

De Beers is the worlds leading diamond company. Inminds came to demand that they end their trade in Israeli blood diamonds, saying the Kimberley Process, meant to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund human rights violations is purposely neutered. De Beers supplies diamonds to Israel where they are cut and polished and produce around about $1 billion annually to bankroll the Israeli military and security industries and its horrendous human right abuses against Palestinians.

Inminds say that in 2015 Israel managed to block a proposal by the World Diamond Council that would have extended the definition of conflict diamonds “to include countries who flout human rights laws not just in mining areas but also in diamond trading centers“. 

The London Mining Network held their protest a few yards away, and not as they had intended at one of the entrances where shareholders might walk to the AGM. Although the two protests remained separate, some of those attending spent time supporting both. I’ve photographed both groups before and probably should have reported the two protests separately, but I hope the captions to my images filed made the position clear – as I think it is on My London Diary in Protests at Anglo-American mining AGM.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


XR Sea of Protest

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Back in November 2016 I attended a vigil outside the Honduran Embassy in London for  environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated either by forces of the state or by groups encouraged by the state. Before her murder she had  death threats from the Honduran National Police and judicial harassment.

Very much to my surprise, Berta Cáceres returned to London this April in the shape of a large pink yacht named in her memory which Extinction Rebellion (XR) had brought to block Oxford Circus to traffic and create a “sea of protest“.

I arrived some hours after the yacht which was by then surrounded by protesters and with various activities taking place, including an induction course for new arrivals and some music. Getting ready to perform were a group of people dressed in red, representing I was told the blood of extinct species and those – like our own – threatened by the Earth’s sixth global extinction event, now getting into full swing thanks to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry and its supporters, particularly President Trump.

I didn’t stay long on this occasion, as other things were happening elsewhere across London. XR intended to keep the roads closed until the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, and this particular action continued from Monday until Friday, when I returned to photograph the police taking action to clear the junction.

More at: Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.