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Underground Actions in the UK

This post will focus on underground actions in the UK where militants target infrastructure or companies responsible for destroying our world.

We in DGR UK believe this is the sort of action that is necessary to dismantle industrial civilization. Militant resistance already exists in the UK. There is a long history of resistance in Britain going back hundreds of years and examples from the past will be explored in future posts.

This post will not include any form of protesting or non-violent direct action (NVDA). These are essential resistance tactics but it is not in the scope of this post. It also will not include any underground actions related to stopping animal cruelty or against the arms industry. Again this is very important work but not in the scope of this post. You can find actions related to animal rights and against the arms trade on the www.directaction.info site. DGR supports this work and believes that any and all resistance to this culture, industrial civilisation is vital.

All the information about underground actions in the UK is gleaned from publicly available information (from 1998 onwards) so is likely to be incomplete and lacking insight is various ways. If you are aware of actions that are not included where the information is publicly available please email uk@deepgreenresistance.org It is important to remember that this analysis and perspective is not meant to be authoritative on, or instructive towards objectives, organisation and operation of how any underground individuals or groups operate. That is for them to determine.

DGR is advocating for an underground network of cells to dismantle industrial civilisation. See the DGR strategy Decisive Ecological Warfare. DGR believes the coordinated and repeated attacks against systemic weak points or bottle necks by an underground network, can cause systems disruption and cascading systems failure, resulting in the collapse of industrial activity and civilisation, which must be our goal if we profess any love for life on this planet.

It is very important that communiques about underground actions are NOT sent to the DGR UK email address as we are not equipped to receive these and ensure whoever sends them remains anonymous. See the DGR UK Security page for more information.

We will start off by looking at Scotland, followed by Wales, then Ireland and finally England.
There have been a large number of underground actions in Scotland, mainly directed against coal mines. All these actions were carried out by people that state in their communiques that they oppose coal mining taking place in Scotland because it causes climate change.

Scottish coal, the UK’s largest open cast producer were given permission to mine 1.7 million tonnes of coal from the Mainshill Wood in South Lanarkshire in February 2009. This was a questionable planning decision and it was one of four coal mines in the Douglas Valley. There was no community consent for any of the coal mines. In June 2009 the Mainshill Solidarity Camp was set up and stood in the way of the open cast mine with fortified bunkers, tunnels, tree houses, a giant scaffold tripod and fort. The camp was evicted in late January 2010, which took five days and forty three people were arrested.

Through 2009 and 2010 there were a number of underground sabotage actions against the Mainshill coal mine. In early October 2009, three heavy vehicles being used to clear trees had there locks glued. In late October, in solidarity with those opposing the Mainshill coal mine a group sabotaged another three tree felling vehicles by cutting wires, breaking lights/fixtures, spray painting windows and smashing a standing flood light. In early November 2009, a group of activists sabotaged a specialist drilling rig and other machinery in the Mainshill Wood.

After the Mainshill Solidarity Camp was evicted the sabotage continued. In April 2010, a group sabotaged two Caterpillar D9T’s and 170 tonne face scrapping earth mover. Both vehicles were made undrivable. In October 2010, the main gates were locked on two separate nights and a Works Traffic sign was repainted with the words ‘Stop Coal Chaos!’. In November 2010, a group sabotaged twelve large machines by cutting hydraulics and electrics (http://www.indymediascotland.org/node/22468).

The Broken Cross open cast coal mine is five miles from Mainshill Wood and is the largest in Europe. On the morning of December 25th 2009, a group sabotaged four machines at Broken Cross mine. In early October 2010, a machine was sabotaged at Broken Cross mine in solidarity with The Happendon Wood Action Camp (THWAC). In mid October 2010, four earth movers, two dump trucks and an explosive handling truck were sabotaged at Broken Cross mine. In late March 2011, two huge coal graders had their hydraulics, electrics and steel cables cut. One was as large as a three story building and used to load coal onto lorries.

There were a couple of acts of sabotage at the Glentaggart opencast coal mine in South Lanarkshire. In August 2009 a group disabled the conveyor belt that moved coal from the mine to Ravenstruther rail terminal, where the coal is sent to Drax power station in Yorkshire. These conveyor are hard to restart when they are heavily laden because they are a few kilometres long. In October 2010 extensive damage was caused to a mobile borehole drilling machine at the proposed Glentaggart East open cast coal mine in South Lanarkshire. The communiqué from this action finishes off with the words ‘End Civ Now!’.

In March 2013 a group sabotaged critical equipment, machinery and vehicles belonging to Scottish Coal at Powharnal open cast coal mine in East Ayrshire, Scotland.

In April 2013 Scottish Coal went into liquidation, closing all of its coal mines and cutting 600 jobs. Scottish Coal had not restored eleven old mines to their natural state plus there are the six existing mines and there is a dispute on the clean up costs.

Apart from coal mine sabotage, in the May 2011 two machines being used to construct a new ASDA near Loanhead on the outskirts of Edinburgh had their electrics and hydraulics cut. This was done in protest to ASDA’s use of GM products and because of how supermarkets treat people and animals.

In August 2007 in Wales, the Brecon Beacons gas pipeline works were sabotaged by a group acting against climate change and in defence of the earth. Eleven machines were made immobile including tipper trucks and excavators.

In Ireland, over the years there have been a number of acts of sabotage against the Quinn Group. The Quinn Group makes cement and concrete products, container glass, radiators and plastics. In April 2013 saboteurs cut down power and communication lines at their power plant in the Derrylin/Ballyconnell area in Ireland.

There have been a good number of actions in the South West of England over the years. In January 2013 two separate wind turbines were found toppled in Devon and Cornwall, bolts were found to be missing from their support bases.

There appears to be a number of very active anarchist groups in the Bristol area. In late August 2013 an anarchist group calling themselves the Angry Foxes Cell has claimed responsibility for the fire that ripped through the Police Firearms Training Centre in Black Rock Quarry, being built in Somerset. In their communiqué they state that they used an accelerate to burn the major electrical cables which led to the blaze. It took two weeks for the fire service to completely put out the fire.

An Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) group claimed responsibility for sabotaging train lines in Bristol in May 2012. This was to affect the employees of the Ministry of Defence and other military industry companies near Filton Abbey Wood.

A group linked to the FAI and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has claimed responsibility for setting fire to a TV and radio relay station near to Bathampton in the South West of England, in January 2013. Another ELF group claimed responsibility for the arson attack on the communications mast on Dundry hill in April 2012, that took out five communication services and took BBC Radio Bristol and Jack FM off air for more than 16 hours. It also disrupted Avon and Somerset Police radio communications. An ELF-FAI group destroyed a BBC transmission mast in August 2011 during the UK riots.

A group sabotaged construction machinery in Somerset in September 2009. In January 2009 a group glued the locks of RBS in the South West in resistance to the banks anthropocentric polices of investing in oil and gas.

In April 2008 a ELF and ALF group sabotaged a number of vehicles at a bridge building construction site in the South West.

In mid 2007 in Bristol, a non passenger railway line that transports cars and fossil fuels to the Midlands was sabotaged. A golf course, mobile phone mast and 4X4s were sabotaged.

In late 1998, at least 10 cement mixing lorries were sabotaged at Pioneer Aggregates concrete depots at St Philips and Avonmouth in Bristol. This was related to Pioneer Aggregates expansion of the Durnford Quarry into Ashton Court Park near Bristol.

In late 2007 saboteurs visited Barnstaple quarry aggregate industries in Devon. All electric cables in the building were cut, a truck and offices damaged and ‘Earth First’! written across a white board.

Now lets look at what is going on in the rest of England.

In late 1998, a earth-mover and two diggers were badly damaged on the A1-M1 link road between York and Wakefield.

In March 2001 Lee Himlin was on remand for six weeks for criminal damage to quarrying equipment at the Nine Ladies quarry on Stanton Moor in Derbyshire. He was then sentenced between May and June 2001. According to wikipedia permission to quarry at nine ladies was revoked in 2008.

In September 2001, two lorries and a number of diggers were badly damaged at the women’s prison construction site in Ashford, Surrey.

In 2003, a number of peat cutting sites in the north west that were sabotaged. This included damaging machines, slashing peat fertiliser bags and dropping of metal into piles of peat (which will set off alarms as they go into the process, stopping it until they have found all the metal).

In February 2008, an aggregates processing plant in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was sabotaged. A number of vehicles, including all bulldozers, had holes drilled in vital parts of their engines and their tyres. Both control rooms were broken into and all computers and instrument panels were smashed. Keys to all buildings and machinery were removed from the site.

In November 2008 at Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent, someone climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading “no new coal”. This person walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence. Their actions halted power for four hours and illustrate the potential which direct action has to really make people sit up and notice. This action also shows the vulnerability of industrial infrastructure and what’s possible if someone is motivated enough.

In May 2010 a group sabotaged a number of vehicles, an excavator, cut electrics and hydraulics at the Shotton opencast coal mine near Cramlington in resistance to environmental destruction and climate change.

In June 2010 a group entered a Cutacre coal mine near Manchester and sabotaged 7 monster-trucks used to transport coal around the site.

In mid 2010, a water pumping station at Axford near Newbury owned by Thames Water was sabotaged by environmentalists wanting to defend their local river system and the wildlife it supports.

In January 2013 members of the ALF/ELF sabotaged construction efforts in the Combe Haven Valley in solidarity with the aboveground efforts of Combe Haven Defenders and others campaigning against the Bexhill-Hastings link road.

All the above actions are very encouraging. There seems to be an active underground resistance network in the UK. It is targeting industrial civilisation’s infrastructure with a lot of success and only one arrest. DGR UK applauds all those involved in this work and we wish them every success in future actions. This shows that what DGR is advocating for is possible and has been happening for years. DGR believes that we need dramatically more of it and would encourage those thinking about underground actions in the future to consider how proven strategic and target selection tools might help them.

The ‘Nine Principles of War and Strategy is a great basic primer on good strategy. The list outlines nine simple strategic principles, tools for strategic analysis that can serve as a foundation for establishing strategy and devising operations. These are: Objective; Offensive; Mass; Economy of Force; Manoeuvre; Unity of Command; Security; Surprise; and Simplicity. This Time is Short column post explains more: Principles of War and Strategy.

When thinking about target selection there is another helpful tool called the CARVER Matrix. This is an analytical formula used by militarises and security corporations for the selection of targets. CARVER is an acronym for the six different criteria: criticality, accessibility, re-cuperability, vulnerability, effect, and recognizability. Again more details can be found in this Time is Short column post: Misdirection & Target Selection, Part 1 and Part 2.

Fracking

Frack Off gave an excellent presentation at the Earth First! Winter Moot in Feburary and explained the horrors of Fracking. A lot of this post is taken from the Frack Off website and their fracking factsheet. I’m sure to most people this gas extraction technique shows how desperate the gas supply situation is. This culture is so insane, it is now condoning the potential destruction of all our fresh water supplies, the total industrialisation of what’s left of our countryside for a fraction of the energy needed to keep industrial civilisation going just that bit longer. Humans can live without the gas ― we have done so for most of our existence ― but humans and non-humans can not live without clean water.

DGR is about trying to make people think about what is primary here? Electricity or water? Short term power supplies for capitalism and industry? or Life?

Relevant Events
Extreme Energy Gathering, April 27-28th, Manchester
Camp Frack 2, May 10-12th, Lancashire

What is Fracking
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique used to extract hydrocarbons trapped in certain types of rock. In particular the widespread use of fracking is being driven by the expansion in shale gas extraction. While the technique itself is not particularly new it has only come into widespread use during the explosion in shale gas extraction over the last few years in the US. Hydraulic fracturing uses pressurised fluid to free trapped gas. Wells are drilled and the fracking fluid injected into them under high pressure to crack the rock. The fracking fluid consists of water, sand and a lot of chemicals. Millions of gallons of water (and hundreds of tons of chemicals) are used to frack a well

Shale Gas
Shale Gas is methane (natural gas) which is trapped in impermeable shale rock deep underground, unlike conventional natural gas which is in permeable rocks, such as sandstone. The gas cannot flow through the shale, so simply drilling a well, as you would for conventional natural gas, is not enough. The shale rock must be cracked to free the gas, hence the need for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). For the same reason it is necessary to drill large numbers of wells at regular intervals. To produce as much gas as a conventional gas field with a dozen or so wells, would require hundreds or thousands of shale gas wells.
figure-2-shale-gas-pad-drilling-courtesy-statoil-300x225

fracking image

Coal Bed Methane (CBM)
Coal Bed Methane is methane (natural gas) trapped in coal seams underground. To extract the gas, after drilling into the seam, it is necessary to pump large amounts of water out of the coal seam to lower the pressure. It is often also necessary to frack the seam to extract the gas. In common with other unconventional gas extraction, such as Shale Gas, CBM wells do not produce large amounts of gas per well and production declines very quickly. It is therefore necessary to drill large numbers of wells, covering a huge swaths of the landscape. CBM exploitation began in the US and over 55,000 CBM well have been drilled in the last decade or so, mostly in the western states (Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in particular). In Australia, where it is know as Coal Seam Gas (CSG), over 5,000 CBM wells have been drilled in Queensland in the last few years and the industry is aggressively expanding into New South Wales. In the UK CBM is more advanced than Shale Gas and full scale production may begin soon.
For more info go here.

figureI-24

Underground Coal Gasification (UCG)
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a process for exploiting coal that cannot be mined because the seams are too deep, thin or fractured. The process involves using the same sort of drilling technology usually used for fracking to get air/oxygen into the coal seam and then set the seam on fire. By controlling the amount of oxygen injected it is then possible to only partially burn the coal and bring the gases produced to the surface where they can be burn to produce energy. A witches brew of toxic and carcinogenic coal tars are produced in the burn cavity. The process is associated with serious groundwater contamination and massive carbon emissions. Small scale tests of UCG have been taking place on and off since the 1930′s, particularly in the Soviet Union and United States, and have usually resulted in contamination of groundwater. More recently there have been three tests in Australia, two of which have resulted in the plants being shutdown. After only a five day burn the well at the Cougar Energy plant in Kingaroy, Queensland exploded and subsequently benzene and toluene were detected in groundwater and in the fat of animal grazing on the surface. Full scale UCG would likely involve huge plants connected to multiple gasifiers, and might be similar to tar sands extraction in its scale and impact. See Underground Coal Gasification: Hellfire and Damnation for more details.

For more on UCG go to here and here.

UCG1

Side effects of Fracking
There are a very large number of side effects that have been linked to fracking, many involving contamination of water in some way.
Methane contamination – The most well known side effect of fracking is methane contamination of nearby water (burning tap water syndrome). This can occur naturally in rare cases but seems to suddenly appear when fracking occurs.
Chemicals used – Fracking uses huge amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals, a large fraction of which are never recovered. It is claimed that the chemicals used in the UK will not be toxic (unlike those used in the US) but that seems highly unlikely once the process gets underway in earnest.
Toxic contamination – While the fracking fluid is underground it is in contact with rocks at high temperatures and pressures. This can result in various material leaching out of the rocks into the fracking fluid. Of particular concern are toxic elements like arsenic that can be brought to the surface by this process.
Radioactive Contamination – In a similar way radioactive isotopes (such as radium-226) can also be leached out of rocks the fracking fluid passes through. Biological concentration of these materials up the food chain would be the largest concern.
Food supply contamination – While the most of the above might seem to be local issues the potential contamination of irrigation water means that everyones food supplies could be affected. You don’t have to live anywhere near a fracking site in order to be worried about your health.
Air pollution – Fracking has also been linked with air pollution, due to the production of ozone and leaks of a variety of volatile chemicals. Increases in respiratory problems have already been reported around the first fracking site in the UK.
Earthquakes – Fracking (as well as disposal of used fracking fluids by pumping them into old wells) also appears to trigger earthquakes. A recent increase of earthquakes in Arkansas declined abruptly after water injection was suspended. The first test well in the UK appears to have caused two earth-
quakes.

UK Government Tax Breaks for Fracking
George Osborne has subsidised fracking in the UK in the budget. Apparently there will be more tax breaks for fracking companies and they will be allowed to offset their exploration costs against tax for a decade. While there seems to be a “sweetener” in the form of proposed incentives for local communities. Is this an attempt to divide and lower opposition, get locals on side against the protesters and also divide local people.

Lack of Regulation by UK Government
George Monbiot identified the UK Governments lack of regulation of fracking companies in in 2011 here. Then earlier this year the UK Government introduced conditions on fracking companies related to seismic activity following two small earthquakes in 2011 caused by Cuadrilla Resources exploratory drilling sites in north-west England. So far the UK Government have not dealt with any of the other side effects listed above.

Where is it happening
There are large areas of the UK where there are shale strata that might be able to produce gas.

Lancashire
Cuadrilla Resources have obtained planning permission for 5 sites in the Blackpool area. They have completed drilling and fracked the Presse Hall well (causing two earthquakes) and their drilling rig is presently being set up at the Marsh Road site.
Presse Hall, Weeton – Well drilled and fracked
Grange Road, Singleton – Well drilled, not yet fracked
Marsh Road, Banks – Drilling rig has moved to this site
Anna’s Road, Westby – Construction of the pad has now started
Inskip Road, Wharles – No work has started

Wales
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd has obtained planning permission to drill core samples at a site near Maesteg, Bridgend in South Wales. If the samples prove interesting then larger scale tests (like those in Lancashire) could follow.

Kent
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd have put in an application to drill core samples through coal and shale strata at a site near Woodnesborough. If the sample proves interesting, then larger scale tests (like those in Lancashire) could follow. It is unclear when the planning application will be decided.

See map on Frack Off website for more details.

Major players
The are a number of companies that have shown interest in exploiting shale gas but only 2 appear to have reached the stage of actual testing.

Cuadrilla Resources
Cuadrilla Resources is a privately owned company headquartered in Licheld, Sta ordshire. The company was set up with $34.2 million from the Australian AJ Lucas Group and has recently received extra funding ($35.4 million) from the American private equity company Riverstone LLC. The company has a petroleum exploration and development licence (PEDL 165) covering a large area of Lancashire. They are in the process of carrying out test drilling and fracking at 5 sites in the Blackpool area (for which they have planning permission).

Coastal Oil and Gas
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, headquartered in Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, has planning permission to conduct core sampling at sites in South Wales and Kent. They are partnered with an Australian company Eden Energy.

More details on them and other companies here.

Recent blog posts on the Frack Off website:
Fracking Desperate: The Scramble For Unconventional Gas
Fracking Nightmare: Destroying Our Countryside

Please note that this information is being provided for aboveground organising.

Frack Free February

Here’s some background information about Frack Free February, coming up soon…

Frack Free February, organised by Frack Free Somerset, is a Month of Action in Somerset with public meetings, talks, stalls, workshops, actions and more all raising awareness about the threats to communities and the bigger picture of extreme energy.

The Frack Free February Month of Action is an opportunity to:

  • Systematically raise awareness about fracking & extreme energy to communities at risk in Somerset – 50,000 leaflets will be distributing across towns & villages in the PEDL licensed areas
  • Create a wide variety of opportunities for participation and action to anyone moved by the literature and outreach activities & the thought of fracking taking place locally
  • Generate momentum for the campaign in 2013 and significantly increase planning application response capacity across the county e.g. starting more local groups, increasing the number of newsletter sign ups and so forth, so that when applications are submitted, we can best respond and support each other across the county.

For more information see: Frack Free Somerset or http://www.facebook.com/events/421862917883143/426461697423265/ or Frack Off.

Fracking is an assault on the land that must be stopped before it gets started. Learn how you can get involved and help resist it if you possibly can.