Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 17:13 UK

Climate campaigners stage march

Climate Camp march
Environmental protesters march in Rochester High Street

Climate campaigners have staged a march and rally in Kent on the first day of a week-long protest against plans to build a new coal-fired power station.

Hundreds of activists are camping in a field outside the Kingsnorth plant.

Protesters gathered in Rochester High Street for the rally amid a heavy police presence, including mounted officers from the City of London.

E.ON UK has said it wants to demolish the existing plant and replace it with a coal-fired unit that is 20% cleaner.

Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas told the rally new coal-fired power stations were a "crime against humanity".

"We are here to give a message to the Government and our message is very clear.

"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."

Penny Eastwood, from the Camp for Climate Action, warned the police officers present, that protesters were prepared to break the law to demonstrate against Kingnorth's development.

"Illegal action is what has always changed the world, from the campaign against slavery, to women's votes, to the civil rights movement in America," she said.

"Now the Government is failing so badly, we believe direct action is needed to stop this massive expansion of carbon intensive industries."

The protesters began to march the seven miles to Kingsnorth following the rally.

Campaigner defends coal demo

Campaigners, some dressed in animal costumes, carried banners and placards and blew whistles and played tambourines as they marched.

Kent Police has said it has 1,400 officers from 26 forces on standby during the Climate Camp.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, said: "We have made it clear to the protesters that we expect them to abide by the law."

The eco-activists want to halt plans for the new coal-fired unit at Kingsnorth, which still needs government approval.

E.ON has said that if it is built, it will be operational by 2012 and provide energy for 1.5 million homes.

Climate caravans

Protesters started to pitch tents outside the plant on Wednesday.

A day of direct action has been planned on Saturday which participants say will "shut down" the 2,000 megawatt plant which supplies electricity to 1.5 million homes in the South East.

Kent Police said it has a 1m law enforcement budget.

In the run-up to the camp, several "climate caravans" headed for Hoo - one group travelling through London in a caravan, dressed as penguins and polar bears.

Members of Maidstone Green Party joined one of the climate caravans on Saturday afternoon to lay a wreath at Allington Incinerator, which will burn waste from homes and businesses.

Another group set out from Heathrow airport last Sunday to walk the 60 miles to Kingsnorth.

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