A year and a half after being pre-emptively arrested alongside more than 100 other people, 20 climate change activists began a month-long trial at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday.
On the newswire: Ratcliffe conspiracy to trespass trial opens today | Ratcliffe on Trial - Day 1 - cheap pix | Defendants & Supporters outside Nottingham Crown Court ahead of the Ratcliffe Trial today | Ratcliffe on Trial - Day 1 - the trial begins
Supporters gathered outside Nottingham Crown Court holding signs which read, "I would stop emissions too".
Anyone in the Nottingham area who would like to meet the defendants or help out can come along to the SUMAC centre (NG7 6HX) each evening after the trial at 7pm for dinner at People's Kitchen.
The arrests were thought to be the biggest ever pre-emptive arrest of environmental activists. The defendants are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass for planning to safely shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station for a week and in doing so stopping 150,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted. While they admit the intent, they maintain that they are not guilty of of a crime.
The defence will show that the activists acted out of necessity, to prevent death and serious injury. According to official sources, 300,000 people per year already lose their lives due to the effects of climate change and half a billion are at "extreme risk". (http://www.preventionweb.net/)
Rebecca Quinn, 32, who was one of those arrested in April but later had the charges dropped, said, "Climate Change is hitting those least responsible for it the hardest. Low-lying island nations are already seeing salt water encroach on their farm land, and in recent years we have seen an increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Coal is the dirtiest method of electricity generation, and must be stopped. To avoid a climate crisis, we must put people before profit. In the face of government apathy and the failure of the Copenhagen conference, it is ordinary people taking direct action who are desperately trying to avoid a bleak future of flooding, drought, crop failure and water shortages."
James Hansen, the high profile scientist who is the Head of NASA's Goddard Institute, is one of the many expert witnesses who will testify during the trial at Nottingham Crown Court. The leading climatologist will guide the jury through the complexities of climate science and explain how coal burning is jeopardizing the lives of millions.
Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party will give expert evidence about the failure to achieve action on climate change domestically and within the EU parliament through more conventional political means. It will be argued that the defendants had no alternative but to physically stop the power station emitting CO2, having exhausted other channels such as lobbying, campaigning, and attending marches.
The defendants are a diverse mix of people of varying ages from 21 to 45. Living across the UK, they work in teaching, science, computing, and many other areas. 114 people were originally arrested on 13th April 2009, but most subsequently had their charges dropped.