Happendon Wood Occupied! New Direct Action Camp Against Scottish Coal
Early evening on Sunday 12th September a group of autonomous individuals successfully occupied a new site in Happendon Wood, South Lanarkshire! Coal Action Scotland are inviting people to join The Happendon Wood Action Camp (THWAC) to help defend the wood from destruction by Scottish Coal, and to take action in solidarity with communities in the area resisting the expansion of the coal industry in the Douglas Valley.
40 people have occupied areas within Happendon Wood, South Lanarkshire to defend it from destruction by Scottish Coal, part of the Scottish Resources Group. They have begun to build shelters and defences on the site, with large banners hung from trees at the front of the site that say: “Defending the Douglas Valley” and “No Opencast Here”. The Happendon Wood Action Camp has come out of a long-term struggle by the local community and Coal Action Scotland to halt coal expansion in the Douglas Valley which is already one of the most heavily mined areas in Europe.
The Scottish Resources Group have applied for planning permission for a mixed use development on this land (which is in an area of Great Landscape Value) in the Douglas Valley, but they intend to opencast the area first. The South Lanarkshire minerals plan highlights areas within the new development as having recoverable coal deposits that can be excavated during the current local plan. Scottish Coal actually wouldn’t be allowed to build on the land without open casting it first, otherwise this would be “sterilising the nations asset” and therefore illegal.
Scottish Coal have not yet publicly declared their interests in opencasting Happendon Wood but many members of the local community have expressed deep concerns that they will be blighted with yet another opencast coal mine. SRG’s application for planning permission for this development is ongoing; the decision by the council will likely be made in the coming months. Questions have been raised about the close relationship between Scottish Coal and South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) resulting in SLC issuing each member of the Douglas and Glespin Community Council legal notices stating that proceedings against them are to begin at Lanark Sheriff Court over alleged libel claims. This move is seen by the community as an attack on their freedom of speech.