>>>chronology of recent action

In Recent Years

Over the last few years a variety of groups from various backgrounds have been focussing on Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

Good Friday 1998 Friends of The Earth organized an action touring garden centres with costumes, banners, placards and leaflets. Peat bags were stickered and leaflets given out to the public. FOE were asking for new laws to be introduced to allow for revocation of old permissions to extract minerals without local authorities having to pay out huge sums in compensation.

August 1998 Guided walk of the moors with plant stalls, talks, slide shows and a peat lands picnic in the grounds of Sandtoft Museum.

November 1998 Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum was set up to raise public awareness, collect information and liase with English Nature. Their aim is to restore the area to its former condition.

Summer 1999 Wildlife Trusts join FOE in holding public meetings to raise awareness and campaign for new wildlife legislation. 1998/1999 The government were persuaded to conduct an inquiry into English Nature and FOE drew up a table of the Peat Free status of local authorities.

2000/2001 Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum visit Westminster to give a presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Wildlife Protection Group about Hatfield. As well as all this there has been press releases, articles written, letters to MPs, lobbying of parliament and letters to the chairman of Scotts.

This years Happenings

Over the summer the campaign to save Hatfield & Thorne Moors has been building interest and trying to limit the amount of peat extracted this cutting season.

26th May was 'Fun in the Sun' day, a joint Leeds FoE/Leeds EF! Event. Friends of the Earth ran a market stall in Thorne in the morning, where locals made cards, placards, posters and balloons with messages to be taken in to Scotts. In the afternoon we all set off from the local pub in a procession to the works, to hand in all the messages collected earlier. Here a couple of police tried to prevent people from entering the site and were completely ignored, as everyone walked straight on to the works disrupting the peat processing for an afternoon. We occupied the works for around 4 hours, keeping ourselves entertained with a kid's ceilidh, football, frisbees & cake.

One month later another trespass was planned. We met up the night before for a briefing, giving out information about exactly what is at stake and the most effective things that can be done to disrupt work. We camped for the night in the nature reserve just round the corner, getting eaten alive by small flying biting things. This time the police turned up in rather larger numbers and surrounded the works to prevent any disruption. However, after coming to tell us what we could and couldn't do over breakfast, they left us and waited at the works entrance, so we drove round to the back of the moor and entered from there. We found some work going on, which stopped when we arrived. It didn't take long for the police helicopter to arrive and follow us around for the day, but they had no other police anywhere near us and the helicopter had to leave at some point to refuel, during which time quite a lot of damage occurred. A couple of machines that were left out were pushed into drainage ditches, every drainage ditch we passed was filled in and handy crowbars were used to pull up the railway track, hopefully causing massive delays as they would have had to check the whole rail network for damage. When we left the moor we found the police waiting for us and being remarkably friendly. They requested everyone's name and address, so instead of delaying and letting them find out what damage had occurred a whole load of false names and addresses were given, including Mr C. Cret and Claremont Road.

During July a couple of groups visited the moor at night and managed to find a pumping machine and move the hose, creating a mire on the track, the idea being to making it impassable for their machinery. There was also some ditch filling & ridge spreading

An action was planned to coincide with the EF! Gathering at the start of August. A group of about 30 people headed off to the peat works after another action against prison labour in solidarity with Mark Barnsley. The action was announced in the morning meeting at the gathering, and when we arrived police (with horses) had occupied the works. Speaking to workers after the event we were told that the police had claimed that 100 violent anarchists had planned to come and destroy the works.However this was our most successful action to date, because an advert on a board claiming we would be going back on Monday after the gathering caused the police to shut down the works for 3 days and leave 300 police there for the whole of that period.

On Sunday the 12th August, about 15 people visited the peat works unannounced, finding it almost deserted and wandering around for about 15 minutes before finding any workers. During this time, all the keys from the key safe and ignition keys for most of the machines disappeared and ended up at the bottom of drains and the engine of one of the two peat-moving trains got sand in the petrol tank. After coming across workers and realising the police had been called, we decided to head off across the moor in an attempt to get away. However the police used their helicopter to try and head us off, bringing it about 6 feet off the ground in front of us and engaging in a game of chicken. However we pressed on regardless and the police chickened out first, but not before police on foot had caught up with some of the group and escorted them off site after taking another set of details. They then set off with the helicopter and dogs to find the rest of the group who managed to hide and escape from the moors without being spotted.

On Saturday the 25th August during the Northern Green Gathering a Mass Trespass was planned. About 70 people left the gathering and met up with a few people from The Ramblers and other local conservation groups. There was a very low police presence, which was generally ignored and the majority of people trespassed onto the moor. A 'Bog off Scotts' banner was held up for photos. Then people spotting dust in the distance decided to go and stop work. The police refused to go any further, citing Health & Safety Regulations. People ran towards where the cutting was taking place at which point the work stopped and the workers desperately tried to move the machinery away before people could stop them. A train trying to speed up to escape from a group chasing it, went too fast and derailed itself, and other machinery was stopped and sat on, preventing it from going elsewhere to work. Another train was found and rocked off its rails. Another group of people meantime had been making themselves busy, destroying the plastic used to keep the cut peat dry whilst it's stockpiled for winter, they also managed to block two of the largest and most important drainage ditches causing Scotts to give up on that area for the rest of the season. A digger was tinkered with and almost jump started, but unfortunately the police helicopter arrived with most unfortunate timing so it was just trashed instead. It is still there and seems to have been abandoned. This time the police, who were unprepared and in very small numbers, didn't even bother with trying to take details and every one left after a few hours and headed back to the gathering.

On Friday the 21st September Nottingham decided to visit Hatfield as their contribution to the days of action. Despite a large amount of pre-publicity there was no police presence and people entered the moor with no hassle. Seeing dust in the distance they headed towards the machines at work, while the workers tried to drive them away. Despite a half a mile head start, they managed to head off the machinery, preventing work for the rest of the day. After about an hour and a half two police officers and the site manager turned up to say that they knew why people were there and as long as nothing was damaged no-one would be arrested. They then had a conversation amongst themselves, the other side of a digger from the one of the group, about how the disruption is affecting them, usefully telling us that disrupting the factory works is the thing that causes them the most problems. Acting on this information, another visit to the works was planned.

About 30 people from as far afield as Bristol, Brighton, London up the country to Manchester, met up on the 25th November for a briefing. At about 10:30 on the morning of the 26th they descended on the site to try and shut it down for the day. A group of people blocked the bridge leading off the site whilst the rest tried to shut down machinery and occupy the offices. The group that was blockading the bridge received a lot of hassle off security, management, and drivers trying to leave. There were too few people and after a few nasty confrontations with protesters almost being run over they left the bridge and joined everyone else in occupying the works. The rest of the day passed smoothly with protestors given a guided tour of the site by workers. A lot of information was gathered and a few pixies partially damaged the back up generator. Lots of keys went missing including the key for the main computer process controller which was left turned off and broken in the lock. At about 1.30 we were outnumbered by the police, who asked us to leave the site or be arrested for aggravated trespass. Deciding enough disruption had occurred we all left the site, with no arrests and no details taken.