Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Activists evicted at coal protest camp vow to fight on

Mainshill Wood Solidarity camp
Eviction officers began removing protesters on Monday

Protesters being evicted from a wood in South Lanarkshire have said they will continue their fight against plans for an open cast mine in the area.

Efforts to clear the Mainshill Solidarity Camp near the village of Douglas began on Monday.

More than 40 people have been arrested at the site after being removed from tree houses and tunnels by eviction officers and police.

Scottish Coal and the landowner, Lord Home, said the camp was illegal.

The company has been granted approval to mine about 1.7 million tonnes of coal at Mainshill.

We are sad to see this part of our community so forcefully taken from us
Lindsay Addison
Douglas Community Council

Climate change campaigners began their occupation of the wood in June last year in a bid to support local people's opposition to Scottish Coal's plans.

Fiona, one of the protesters, said: "We may have been arrested and bailed away from the site of Mainshill Wood, but our solidarity with the local communities in the Douglas Valley is enduring.

"The campaign will be taken to new levels as the struggle against Scottish Coal and corrupt politicians intensifies."

Scottish Coal and the Douglas and Angus estate have employed an eviction team to clear the wood.

Specially trained climbers have been working to remove protesters from the tree-top platforms they have erected.

Protester in tree at Mainshill Wood Solidarity Camp
Protesters locked themselves onto tree branches at the camp

The cost of the eviction is not known but the protesters claimed that a similar effort to remove campaigners against the Dalkeith by-pass in Midlothian in 2006 cost about £1.9m.

Most local people have supported the protesters during their occupation.

Lindsay Addison, chairman of Douglas Community Council said, "We are sad to see this part of our community so forcefully taken from us by the same people destroying our health and our countryside.

"Why is it not a crime to dig up and burn coal when we know that the planet and people are suffering because of it?

"Why would you arrest and criminalise the people trying to protect the planet?"

A spokesman for the eviction team said they would continue the operation until the land was cleared.

He added that the safety of both the workers at the site, and the protesters, was key to the eviction process.

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