Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 14:26 UK

MPs concerned at climate policing

Hoo stop and search
Police have been stopping and searching people in Hoo

An extension of police powers to stop and search anyone near a protest camp in Kent is undermining civil liberties, two MPs and an MEP have said.

South East MEP Caroline Lucas and MPs Norman Baker and Colin Challen have written to the Kent force with concerns about the policing of the protest.

The Climate Camp is opposing plans for a coal-fired power station near Hoo.

Kent Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said the aim was to protect residents, police and the protesters.

Eco-activists said on Friday they had also "superglued" themselves to the front door of the Royal Bank of Scotland in the City of London.

They claimed the demonstration at the entrance to the bank's oil and gas division was a protests at "links" between the financial sector, fossil fuel industry and climate change.

Two people were arrested for breach of the peace, City of London Police said.

And in another action, 12 green activists staged a lunchtime protest at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in Westminster.

The naked group bore placards stating: "Clean coal is science fiction. If E.ON sticks to dirty power we will stick to E.ON. A zero carbon future is possible."

Discretionary powers

The demos were part of the week-long Camp for Climate Action near Kingsnorth power station.

Organisers said there were now about 1,500 people at the camp in Dux Court Road.

Police arrested 12 people there on Thursday, bringing the total number of arrests to 34. Police have charged 16 and five remain in custody.

There were more arrests on Friday but the numbers were not yet known.

Discretionary powers to allow police to stop and search people have been extended to the whole of the Hoo peninsula.

"I think it is undermining our civil liberties and, at the moment at least, there is no reasonable grounds to be doing that," said Dr Lucas.

The proposed new Kingsnorth power station
Campaigners want to halt plans for a coal-fired unit at Kingsnorth

Mr Beautridge said the decision was not taken lightly.

"We believe the overwhelming majority of the protesters are law-abiding people there for a legitimate reason.

"But we believe there is a small hard core of people who are prepared to use criminal tactics and criminal activity to get their point across."

The activists have gathered on a field two miles from the power plant in a week-long protest against plans for a coal-fired unit.

E.ON UK has said the coal-fired unit will be 20% cleaner.

Medway Council has approved the scheme and the final decision will be made by the government.

If approved, E.ON said the power station would be operational by 2012 and would provide energy for 1.5m homes.


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