Yes I was breaking the law. I was getting in the way of a ship exporting coal. There is a law to stop people blocking shipping channels.
However, there is no law preventing or even restricting the mining, sale and burning of coal despite clear evidence it is the primary cause of climate change. That will cost us and future generations far more than mere money, and far, far more than a little delayed shipping.
I was among 109 very concerned citizens who yesterday extended the Newcastle harbour blockade an hour and a half beyond the 30 hours that had been sanctioned by authorities. We ignored the police warnings that we risked arrest if we did not clear the shipping channel.
It was a deliberate act.
We stayed together, adults of all ages and abilities, on kayaks, rafts, dinghies, even surfboards, working against the wind and current to stay firmly in the middle of the channel. Then, one by one, we were arrested, We were taken aboard two giant black inflatable police vessels and ferried to shore. Our vessels were left to drift across the harbour.
The "Rising Tide" Newcastle harbour blockade has been happening every year now for well over a decade. The authorities like to work with organisers so they can arrange to have no ships enter or leave the harbour during the one or two days of the blockade. That makes it a very safe event, but it also makes it fairly meaningless in real terms since coal ship movements get shuffled to avoid any impact. To date the event has probably had no net effect on the export of coal. And is anyone really listening to our pleas?
It seems, only by defying the authorities and breaking the law can we attract the attention to this subject that it deserves. I don't feel however that we are offenders. The law may not be on our side here but we are defending, not offending, our planet, our country and our children's rights.
The law may not be on our side here but we are defending, not offending, our planet, our country and our children's rights- Tom Hunt
Just after the arrest, while we were standing on the shore waiting to be processed, two bulk carrier ships left the harbour, no doubt another few hundred thousand tonnes of coal ready to add to the blanket in our sky.
There is no excuse. We have to stop this.
Tom Hunt was part of the Rising Tide blockade of the Port of Newcastle.