To find your way to the site, use the site maps and transport links. It took me about half an hour to reach the site from Wellington railway station by bike. Head south-east, pick up Dawley Road, cross over the motoway and look out for New Works Lane on the right. All but the first bit of the ride is uphill, which means that the return journey can be done in about 10 minutes flat, even allowing for a photography break at the end of the lane. The site is easiest to find from the hidden stile in the hedge next to a dilapidated wooden gate on New Works Lane. Coming from the north (Wellington), it's on the right just before the second lot of houses not far from the top of the hill. Climb over the stile, follow the path and you'll see the welcome sign. The site can also be approached from both the north and south.
An area of outstanding natural beauty. Let's keep it that way
The proposed open cast coal mine site lies just inside the northern boundary of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), supposedly a 'protected landscape'. This makes me wonder about my long-suffering friends at Karuna, who have gone through years of planning hell trying to develop their exemplary Permaculture project within the same AONB. While UK Coal will completely destroy this beautiful landscape and its historical features as well as decimating its wildlife, work at Karuna is being done with the utmost respect for the environment and the lightest of footprints. Would Karuna have had an easier ride with the authorities if its caretakers had applied to mine or quarry the land instead?
The site and adjacent area include ancient woodlands and the proposed link road (where the main protest camp is situated) cuts through Shortwood, home to the Wrekin Clootie Tree or Wytch Tree. UK coal cut down a number of trees at the site shortly before the camp was established and workers are now starting to tear up the land on the southern end of the proposed mining area having fearlessly evicted a few tree houses which, sadly, were unoccupied at the time. There are a number of earth moving machines being kept on site, behind Harris fencing on the southern boundary at present. To date, the camp is defending the proposed link road area and the northern end of the site, access to which is supposed to be via this road.
There are plenty of well-established defences already in place at the camp including an impressive wooden 'fort', tunnels, tree houses, nets and aerial walkways, with more being added all the time. Materials for this work would be much appreciated, or donations to help the camp folk buy essentials. Benefit gig, anyone?
As winter approaches and as more people arrive on site, food, blankets and other warm things are much needed. Other supplies required are listed on the camp wish list. Please donate what you can.
Part 2 to follow...