Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 19:18 UK

Chimney activists 'not vandals'

The chimney at Kingsnorth Power Station
The campaigners painted the name "Gordon" on the chimney

Six Greenpeace activists charged with causing criminal damage in a protest in Kent are not "unthinking vandals", a jury at Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Judge David Caddick began summing up and said jurors would have to consider whether the group had a lawful excuse.

He said the country had a history of "accommodating protests", but it did not extend to breaking the law.

The activists are charged with causing damage put at 30,000 after they scaled Kingsnorth power station in Hoo.

'Greenland melting'

Judge Caddick warned the jury to put aside any feelings towards Greenpeace, climate change or fuel companies during their deliberations.

He said the "good faith", "commitment to the cause of the environment" and "motives" of the defendants was not in question.

He said: "It is not alleged that any of them is an unthinking vandal.

"The issue is whether, despite what they have said and their undoubted good faith, they had a lawful excuse for what they did."

The proposed new Kingsnorth power station
The campaigners spent 30 hours on the site

Earlier, jurors heard evidence about climate change from a Greenland Inuit.

Aqqaluk Lynge, president of the Inuit circumpolar council, said the Inuit people had to build houses and camps on "melting and unpredictable soils".

Mr Lynge described to the court "unpredictable weather", "the sliding of houses into the sea", "reduction of habitats for polar bears and other species", "new pest species", and pollution because of increased shipping.

Five people who scaled the chimney - Huw Williams, 41, of Nottingham; Ben Stewart, 34, of Lyminge, Kent; Kevin Drake, 44, of Westbury, Wiltshire; Will Rose, 29, of London; and Emily Hall, 34, from New Zealand - are all charged with causing criminal damage.

Coal power protest

Tim Hewke, 48, from Ulcombe, Kent, who the prosecution said helped organise the protest from the ground, is also facing the same charge.

The activists claim they were lawfully right to damage the plant because they believed it would prevent further damage around the world from global warming.

Jurors have heard how protesters painted the name "Gordon" on the 200m (650ft) chimney on 8 October last year, in a political protest against the redevelopment of the plant as a coal-burning unit.

They had planned to daub the words "Gordon, bin it" on the stack, but were threatened with a High Court injunction and arrested.

The case continues.


SEE ALSO
Nasa man defends climate protest
03 Sep 08 |  England
Activists deny damaging chimney
01 Sep 08 |  England

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