Rally calls for end to coal

Eco-activists have staged a "No New Coal" rally and march to mark the start of a week-long protest against plans to build Britain's first new coal-fired plant for 30 years.

Demonstrators converged in Rochester, Kent, amid a heavy police presence, including mounted police officers from the City of London and a police helicopter.

Around 200 protesters listened to speeches on the dangers of climate change before embarking on a seven-mile march to Kingsnorth to signal the first official day of Camp for Climate Action.

Campaigners waved banners and placards bearing the slogans "Coal is not the answer", "No new coal - stop Kingsnorth" and "No new carbon dinosaurs" as they made their way to the power station.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP and principal speaker at the rally, received loud cheers as she addressed the crowd using a pedal-powered microphone and amplifier.

She said: "We have just 100 months in which to effect a massive transition away from a fossil fuel economy. The government's addiction to fossil fuels is not only destroying the environment, but also people's lives now.

"The plans to build new coal-fired power stations starting here in Kingsnorth are nothing less than crimes against humanity. We pledge to take every action necessary both within the law, and if necessary outside the law, to prevent climate chaos.

"This demonstration is a wake up call because this government is sleep-walking into catastrophe."

Kingsnorth, if built, Lucas said, would be the first new coal-fired power station for three decades, pumping out up to eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the 24 lowest emitting countries in the world.

She added: "If the government goes ahead, it will be giving a green light to the rest of the world to say that coal is OK. If that is the case we really are staring climate chaos in the face. To go ahead with the new coal-fired power station would be a massive step in the wrong direction."

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