Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 08:16 UK

Kingsnorth 'is part of our lives'

By Tanya Gupta
BBC News, Kent

Sheila Mudge
Sheila Mudge said the power station was part of village life

Villagers living within two miles of the Climate Camp in Kent are asking why protesters are objecting to the power station that is part of their lives.

Sheila Mudge said many people moved to north Kent's remote Hoo peninsula to work for Kingsnorth power station.

"People are asking why they are coming - it's our power station," she said.

Activists want to halt plans for a coal-fired unit at Kingsnorth. They said Hoo was rich in renewable energy sources such as tide and wind power.

Mrs Mudge has lived in the village of Hoo St Werburgh for 29 years and edits the local Village Voices newsletter which is sponsored by E.ON UK, the company that runs Kingsnorth.

She said: "We've always had the power station. People work there. It's part of our life."

Wind and tide power

Adding that she used to live in Bells Lane, where she could see both Grain and Kingsnorth power stations from her window, she said: "If you don't want to live near a power station you don't move there."

She added: "A lot of people came to the village because of work. My husband, when we got married, was working out of Grain power station."

This year's climate camp at Kingsnorth is the third annual protest - last year it was at Heathrow.

Mrs Mudge said there was "a reason" why people supported a climate camp at Heathrow.

"They were in arms against the new runway," she said.

We are talking about rising sea levels...people are going to lose their homes

Peter McDonnell

But she said "very few people" near the power station opposed E.ON UK's plans for a coal-fired unit - and most objections to what was a "world issue" came from "further afield".

Camp participant Peter McDonnell said climate change would affect "every single one of us".

He said: "In the context of the Hoo peninsula, we are talking about rising sea levels.

"Large areas will go - people are going to lose their homes."

He said activists would prioritise any local concerns during the camp, but added: "Local concerns are going to be nothing compared with the inconvenience people will face in the future if we don't start changing our ways."

He said campaigners received a "mixed response" from the Hoo community, but locals did not "unanimously oppose" them.

Kingsnorth power station
Protesters said the renewable energy sector could provide more jobs

Activists played football with local youth and were in turn invited to the pub, while some villagers were joining the camp for the week, he added.

And Mr McDonnell said there would be "more jobs" in the power sector if "sensible decisions" were made.

He said protesters wanted a "just transition" towards a post-carbon society that did not see workers in the fossil fuel industry "ending up on the scrap heap".

Mr McDonnell said the peninsula was "rich" in renewable energy sources, such as wind and tide power.

And Germany currently employed 250,000 people in high-skilled jobs in the renewable energy sector and had been "much more successful" than the UK, he added.

E.ON UK's plans to demolish the existing Kingsnorth plant and replace it with a coal-fired unit that is 20% cleaner still need government approval.

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

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