Climate danger 'justifies power station damage' caused by environmental activists (Greenpeace alert)
LONDON: The fight for the planet has broken new ground, with a British jury acquitting environmental activists who caused more than pound stg. 35,000 ($76,000) worth of damage to a coal-fired power station.
In a decision that will send chills down corporate spines across Britain, the jury decided the dangers of global warming were so enormous that the Greenpeace campaigners were justified in trying to close down Kingsnorth power station in Kent. Jurors at Maidstone Crown Court cleared the six activists of criminal damage, accepting they had a "lawful excuse" to damage the Kingsnorth property to try to prevent the even greater damage of climate change, British newspaper The Independent reported yesterday.
The defence of "lawful excuse" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage -- such as breaking down the door of a burning building to put out the fire.
One of the world's leading climate scientists, James Hansen, flew in from the US to testify at the trial, where he appealed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally to rethink Britain's plans for coal-fired energy.
The acquittal was the second time in a decade that the "lawful excuse" defence has been successfully used by Greenpeace activists, The Independent reported. In 1999, 28 Greenpeace campaigners were cleared of criminal damage after destroying an experimental field of GM crops in Norfolk. In each case, the damage was not disputed -- the point at issue was the motive.
Their aim, the activists said during the trial, was to rein in carbon emissions and pressure the Government and energy companies.
They insisted their action had caused the minimum amount of damage necessary to close the plant down and constituted a "proportionate response" to the increasing environmental threat.