Sizewell villagers in bid to stop nuclear protest camp

LOCAL residents are calling for action to prevent the establishment of an anti-nuclear camp on the car park and beach near the Sizewell power station site over the Easter weekend.

They say activists taking part in the annual camp – timed to mark the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – have in the past been allowed to ignore a ban on camping and overnight parking which is enforced among ordinary members of the public.

Pat Hogan, who represents local residents on the Sizewell Stakeholder Group, a local community liaison group, told its quarterly meeting yesterday that the right of anti-nuclear campaigners to peacefully protest was respected.

However, there was concern that activists were allowed to camp and park overnight on the Suffolk Coastal District Council car park and on the adjacent beach when a ban was applied to ordinary members of the public.

'Last year it was totally ignored by the council and the police. When we approached the authorities we were told it was too late and that neither the council nor the police wanted a confrontation,' Ms Hogan said.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said his organisation was not organising the weekend camp but members would support it.

'They are demonstrating to try to save your lives, the lives of your children and the lives of your children's children because while the nuclear power stations are there is a risk of either a major accident or a terrorist attack.

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'You should show a bit of tolerance towards people who give up their time for the greater good of mankind,' he said.

Mr Barnett said last year police officers had taken photographs of participants in the camp and their vehicles. Since then he had been told by Suffolk Constabulary that all photographs and negatives would be destroyed and that such a practice would not reoccur. He asked for an assurance that such tactics would not be used this year.

Inspector Ian Gilmour, head of Leiston Police, said he could not personally give such an assurance.

However, a meeting to discuss the forthcoming protest weekend was being arranged by the district council and would involve the police, the nuclear site operators and local residents.

Carolyn Barnes, attending Thursday's SSG meeting on behalf of the district council, said she understood a decision had been taken last year to allow the camp to remain because otherwise activists could have dispersed all over the Leiston area.

The forthcoming camp is being organised by a group calling it self Stop Nuclear Power Network.

A leaflet being circulated to potential participants of the campsays: 'We want as many people as possible to feel comfortable at the camp so no heavy drinking or loud music.'

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