The Kingsnorth Six

You may well have heard about this already, so apologies – not least to Nick – for not being able to mention it, and invite your feedback on it, before my break.

David’s guitar and backing vocals, along with the bass of Guy Pratt, feature on a new song by Nick Laird-Clowes (Dream Academy, Trashmonk) called ‘Mayday’.

It’s part of the soundtrack to Nick Broomfield’s documentary, ‘A Time Comes: The Story of the Kingsnorth Six’, about a group of influential environmental activists who, in a protest against government plans to construct new coal-fired plants across Britain (you can see where they want them, here), bravely scaled a 220m chimney at Kingsnorth power station, Kent, back in 2007.

In all, 50 Greenpeace volunteers took over the site. They immobilised the conveyor belts that carry coal into the plant and chained themselves to machinery.

The resulting trial was historic.

You can watch how their story unfurled in a 20-minute documentary, and download the track, here.

Naturally, I’d like to hear what you think of both, but I’d also enjoy a tasty discussion about coal’s validity in the 21st century and about ordinary people taking up their right to protest, which is what the song is all about.

One fact to bear in mind, if you please: Seven new (marginally more efficient) coal plants would wipe out half of the UK’s carbon budget, making it impossible to reach the target of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% (compared with 1990 figures) by 2050.

That target figure doesn’t take into consideration emissions from shipping and aviation, but that’s a grumble for another day.

A German report commissioned by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council claims that, by 2050, the USA could be coal-free, drawing nearly all its electricity from renewable supplies, cutting emissions by more than 80% and creating 14 million jobs in the process.

Germany, by the way, although experiencing similar resistance to the construction of new coal-powered plants, is on target to be using 100% renewable energy sources by 2050. (Germany already produces 200 times more solar, and ten times more wind, power than the UK.)

If you’d like to Give Coal the Boot, and let Prime Minister Brown know how you feel about coal (that’s give coal the boot, not Gordon; give him a break, it’s not all his fault), stamp your footprint on the Greenpeace map – it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. The same is true if you’d like to contact energy giant E.ON.

As has been said a million times before, we only have one Earth, so issues such as this have consequences for everybody.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

45 thoughts on “The Kingsnorth Six”

  1. We know how to reduce our carbon footprint. Now we need to actually do it. We would be off to a great start to just upgrade our old power plants with new ones, place filters on old smokestacks, and drive more energy-efficient cars. It’d save a lot of energy, create a lot less pollution, and not really affect our lifestyle.

    I’m glad that awareness is being raised through things like this new song and documentary. Kudos to David (and to Guy) for taking part in it.

  2. I remember about the Kingsnorth Six, they were great.

    What I found really mad was that, having to build these plants from the beginning, they wanted to build new coal-fired ones, instead of investing on renewable energies.

    Anyway, I found this New York Times article and it seems Great Britain is not alone.

    1. The choice between coal and nuclear is a grim one. I realise that it’s an idealistic stance, but I cannot understand why renewable energy isn’t worthy of such investment. Solar panels in the Sahara, anyone? Scientists say that North African solar farms could reliably supply nearly 80% of Europe’s energy needs by 2050, and wouldn’t it be nice if Africa, after centuries of shameful exploitation, could prosper in the same way that oil rich lands have? What a delightful turn-up for the books that would be.

      I wish all those who protest loudly about solar farms being vulnerable to terrorist attack (wouldn’t a nuclear power station be a much better target for a suicide bomber looking to maximise his devastation?) or at the mercy of corrupt regimes caught up in endless wars (what, like the oil-drenched Middle East?) would reconsider.

    2. I also think it would be a great change if Africa could finally come out from the poverty and develop. Too great, since, if it happened, the rich oil countries should probably stop their exploitation and many economic balances would change.

      It’s very sad, but I think no one of these rich countries has actually an interest in helping African development.

      No dangerous radiation would come out from solar farms, if an accident occurred, but it would surely be a tragedy if the same thing would happen to a nuclear plant. They wouldn’t deny it at least, I hope.

  3. We shoe-horned this film onto the end of last week’s Transition Malvern Hills Network Meeting. I spotted Nick Laird-Clowes’ name on the credits and naturally assumed that Guy was involved somehow. 😉

    It’s a beautiful and inspirational film.

    Unfortunately I will be travelling back from Devon (returning from a sailing trip to Brittany the Scilly Isles and Cornwall on Vigilance) on July 4th so am unable to help form the human ring around Kingsnorth.

    Have a good break FEd… and keep on keeping on. 🙂

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed the song, very warm and melodic. Nick’s voice also.

  5. The documentary was very real and the trial for the Kingsnorth Six, 6 Greenpeace activists who climbed a chimney at a power station, was really remarkable. The part where the only female said her mantra for getting back up was “Pasta, Paris” really shot to my core. It was a very touching documentary and Nick’s song that David played and sang on was really perfect for the video.

    I think the reason why Germany is so good about solar is their government pays incentives to people who want to install them on their homes or factories. I tried investing in an US solar plant last year and lost my shirt with short sellers making a butchery of the market and real passionate investors are made fools of.

    My ideas about actively protesting were permanently altered with Kent State which most of you on this blog won’t even know about.

    That being said, in the United States everyone has the right to actively protest any cause and it is now greatly supported by our government.

    I wish I could be with you on 4th July.

    Patricia

    1. I do know about Kent State. Shame about what happened there.

      Waiting for the documentary to download so I can watch it.

      Thanks for the heads up FEd. Have a good break!

  6. Hey All,

    Ahh coal… a resource that is in abundance, cheap and well suited for power generating plants… I can hear the deep collective breath from the hordes out there: is Howard actually going to support the use of coal with our carbon footprint (hate that phrase by the way… reminds me too much of manager speak) of at least a size 22?

    Well yes, for a number of reasons. One is that people on earth are into power generation in a big way… with big needs and growing consumption. Many 3rd world economies are on the brink of discovering that they too can be like India and China. They will naturally gravitate to coal power plants for their needs because they are relatively cheap to setup considering their output.

    Ooooh Howard… how can you advocate such a horrid course of action? Simple. Nuclear power… ahhh, did I just hear collective grinding of teeth?… so that’s out. Let’s talk renewable resources… wind and solar… nice but impractical for many less developed countries. Even developed ones will have issues as well converting to this mode… very costly and you need an awful lot of windmills to make a real difference. How many would like 1000 windmills behind their house? Humm. As I suspect, not many takers. Well, can’t they can go into remote corners of the globe so they won’t spoil the view? Not practical because they need to be fairly close to civilization to lower the transport costs.

    1. I read today that China aims to match Europe’s target of, by 2020, having 20% of its energy needs met by renewable sources – to become the world’s first green superpower.

  7. I do like the idea of electric cars, but where will the oil companies fit in to all this? There are basically a one trick pony… take away that ability to run the world on petrol (gas) and they will be one big bunch of sour gobs. Will they try and stop it?

    Here in Ontario, they have closed down coal power plants to make politicians look like heroes. That is fine and dandy but there has been nothing constructed to take their place. We (well, the politicians) have allowed us to lose a lot of capacity with no return.

    Once again I am being a very good devil’s advocate. There are too many people with a very simplistic view of how the world works. That was the problem with the Woodstock generation. Good intentions but no practicality.

    The bottom line is designing a world that actually runs based on the fact that there are so many countries with so many different socio economic levels. It’s a very tall order indeed and probably impossible to achieve.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. I’m in agreement with Howard…

      And if those barstewards J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison hadn’t conspired to undermine Nicola Tesla we may all be enjoying free electricity!

      J. Edgar Hoover had all of Tesla’s papers removed from his Hotel bedroom when he died which means the US Government have them somewhere and are keeping his inventions a secret… 😡

      Tesla was robbed!

  8. “Clean Coal” is a misnomer, and a joke. Coal should be abandoned and replaced with renewables.

    However, I do think that improved coal burning technology should be developed. If for no other reason than to sell it to the Chinese. They seem bound and determined to burn it, and right now are the biggest offenders in terms of coal related mercury and greenhouse pollution.

    Coal use should be incrementally tariffed in the west until it is no longer cost effective in comparison to renewables.

    Long time no blog/chat. Hello everyone! I hope you are well.

    1. I also read today that there was almost a 7% increase in the amount of coal burned by the Chinese last year, accounting for a whopping 43% of global use.

  9. I can’t believe that the British government plans to construct new coal-fired plants. Sorry, but it seems to me a complete archaic idea.

    Coal is an abundant fuel resource and provides/provided cheap electricity but burning it produces large emissions of CO2, of SO2, even of arsenic. I read that a coal plant generates 3700000 tons of CO2 in a year.

    These emissions also contribute to acid rains and of course global climate change. They damage forests and lakes.

    Coal is not recyclable.

    Also, transporting coal is problematic because it requires an extensive transportation system that causes additional pollution .

    And of course coal is dangerous for the health of people who dig it.

    I think that those who have signed the Kyoto Protocol should not choose to develop coal industry. It would be a nonsense.

    As for the ‘ordinary people taking up their right to protest’, I think they are totally right. Nothing ever happens without using force (not sure it makes sense in English). I mean, we cannot just sit and gently wait for the politicians/deciders to be receptive to our desires/claims.

    Viva La Revolution! 😉

    Michèle

  10. I forgot to speak about the song ‘Mayday’. I like it, it’s entertaining. Just now, I can’t get it out of my head and I love the violin at the end. I’m not sure to hear/recognise David, though. :!

    I would like to understand the lyrics. I hope I’ll find them somewhere on the web.

    Michèle

    1. Very catchy, isn’t it?

      The electric violin (and viola) are played by Ben Coleman, who also played on Trashmonk’s ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’.

    2. There’s something very familiar sounding about the second ‘hey’s – if that makes any sense at all because it doesn’t to me now that I’m reading it. 8|

  11. Hi Ho All,

    Mayday… great song. Drips of Dream Academy in all sorts of ways. Particularly enjoy the catchiness of it as a song, and the point of it as a lyric… a nice poles apart musical moment. And it was all done in a weekend instead of a decade… hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice.

    Coal… Way back when, whales were hunted primarily for their oil, used as a fuel in all sorts of good ways. If allowed to continue, it would have seen the extinction of the whale; which nearly happened anyway. What saved them was the mass consumption of coal. It proved to be a better fuel, more abundant, and cheaper to get. Whales became unviable as a fuel source so folks stopped hunting them.

    This simple history lesson is all that we need to do it again. Find a cheaper, more abundant fuel source and folks will change almost overnight. They won’t need convincing, they won’t need Greenpeace to preach. They will look at their hip pocket and change their ways. The benefits will happen equally quickly.

    Just like whaling stopped, coal consumption would stop. None of this small percent in three lifetimes. But next to complete stoppage in a matter of years.

    I look forward to the next sunrise. 🙂

    Cheers
    Christopher

    1. About whaling stopping. Don’t think it has. Reference TV show “Whale Wars” shown here in the States. A few countries still send out whaling boats to kill whales. Some claiming to be “research” vessels.

      But back to the coal. Coal burning IS a dirty business. The year 2050 is WAY DOWN THE ROAD, and something is very wrong if coal and gas are still used by then.

    2. About whaling stopping. Don’t think it has.

      No, unfortunately it hasn’t.

      Have you ever heard about this?

      Can a tradition justify a shame like that?

  12. This is good for a short term solution but what about the distant future? No solution will solve the problem in a thousand years when there are so many people on this planet that we can’t move.

    The only solution is to jump over to our nearest earth like planet which is soon to be discovered by the Kepler spacecraft.

    Obviously we need to survive until we can develop the technology to get there, but that is not as far off as people think.

    I think that we should be campaigning to increase our capabilities in space at a greater rate and therefore our investment in the future.

    Obviously, patching things up like this needs to be done in the meantime but not obsessively.

  13. If you’d like to Give Coal the Boot, and let Prime Minister Brown know how you feel about coal …

    I have just done it, have received a “Thanks” e-mail from Greenpeace-UK and have seen my footprint on the Greenpeace map (France, Lille). Wow! Good for my conscience and great fun.

    I’m not sure Gordon Brown would appreciate French interference into his affairs/business, though. But he has other problems to face just now, no? :))

  14. Hi,

    I’m from Brazil, in fact from the smallest state in this country and from the poorest region of a third world country.

    We all know how important it is to protect nature and to halt these climatic changes. But how could we teach this to people who don’t have jobs and even don’t know what they will eat in the end of the day?

    We are tied in poverty.

    1. What you say is true. It must be hard to tell who lives in poverty, he should be interested in things which seems not immediately connected to the basic needs.
      That’s really one of the worst consequence of poverty and one of its causes, too. It’s impossible even to think about a way to come out from poverty when you’ve to spend all your time searching a way to survive.

      My utopia is this: that the third world could start developing in an eco-compatible way, using renewable energies from the beginning, not polluting the planet as the rich west did.

      If something like that happened and it worked fine, I’m sure there would be no need to explain to people why the environment is so important. They would learn it by themselves.

      Anyway, it’s also very hard to convince the people in the rich west of the world that it’s time to limit their consumes, renounce some of their (often useless) comforts and look to the future.

  15. Hi, I’m one and I hope you are all feeling fine.

    I am a great Gilmour fan and I like to play guitar, if I can.

    Hope to see you soon, David.

  16. This is more bad news about power plants reconversion in Italy.

    It seems they really don’t want to consider anything else than oil, coal or nuclear as possible alternatives.

    If they don’t want to invest on solar, what about natural gas?

    They say it’s more expensive to convert oil-fired power plants to natural gas, than converting them to coal, but if costs are the problem, why are they insisting on nuclear?

    I think, probably, they have their own secret convenience in building very expensive nuclear power plants and close them in few decades, as soon as Uranium will end.

  17. i’ve refined my five year plan!

    force, by threat of nationalisation, the electric companies to install solar radiation panels and wind turbines to all domestic dwellings. if they install enough (and they should) then the extra electricity generated can be “sold” back to them to pay for installation and maintenance – and for them to sell to industry.

    then we’ll still need the electric companies, we’ll still need the electric grid, so no loss there.

    we won’t need more coal fired power stations and we will never ever need nuclear power stations – period.

    you could even make a nominal charge for the electricity as a good will payment for installation and maintenance.

    i love it when a plan comes together. 😉

    hope all’s well @ DGHQ and with you FE’d,
    andy

    p.s. oh, in answer to Luis, we could and should sponsor the rain forest from deforestation. that way a genuinely poor people would get cash for not cutting down their forests and would then benefit greatly. best to have them as protectors of our planets lungs. obviously it won’t help every poor person on the planet but it is a good start.

  18. I’ve been reading that efforts are underway to make solar and wind power more viable for the middle-class homeowner who wants to go off the power grid. In the area of solar power generation, this entails the development of more efficient, lightweight panels that would be made cheaply and therefore would be more affordable than today’s technology. These panels will be easy to install by the average Joe, too. It is unclear when these new solar panels would be ready for market, but I think a lot of people would go to solar power if it were more viable.

    And in the area of wind power, they are developing smaller turbines that would spin more easily and therefore would not need as much wind to produce energy as the current turbines. This wind technology is not being developed as a way to get a given house off of the grid, but rather to augment the grid and reduce the need for coal and nuclear energy.

    I can’t speak for everybody, but this much is definitely true: I would purchase this technology in a heartbeat if I could, as a way of reducing my consumption of traditional power. Not only that, but it would be a great conversation starter among dinner guests!

    Being American I’m not too familiar with the Kingsnorth Six. But if they raised awareness of these issues, then more power to them!

  19. What is the thought on this?

    Did Pink Floyd or DG ever play this venue? Has anyone here been in this place and is it truly as spectacular as Jagger is stating?

    I won’t deny that it is musically historic knowing The Beatles, Stones, The Who and the Kinks have played there.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  20. I sent yesterday my request for the download version of “A Time Comes” and the link has arrived today in my e-mail, so I’ll watch it soon.

    I also listen to “Mayday” and I liked it.

    As Michèle said, it would be interesting to read the lyrics, but I couldn’t find them online. Maybe it’s too early, so I’ll try again.

    Have a good weekend. 🙂

  21. I hate coal almost as much as that song. Sorry, but that was terrible. Sounded like it was made in Nick Laird Clowes’ own coal furnace… I didn’t hear DG on there anywhere. I’m pretty open-minded about these things as I am a songwriter myself but that was not that great. Glad I’m not the one who had to mix it down. Just my opinion and so don’t react shoot me… I love The Dream Academy.

    Now, off to see Amadou and Mariam at Bonaroo here in Nashville this weekend. Any chance for a rehashing of the May 25 gig in Great Britain with DG? Also, Bruuuuuuuuuuce Springsteen, Warren Haynes and Govt Mule and Wilco. Maybe even Public Enemy and Phish. It is very hot and muddy as we had some serious thunderstorms last night. CMT Fest is here this weekend as well and so Nashville really is living up to the Music City nickname.

    Pray for me.

    Blake in Nashville

    1. Blake, I believe you can hear David’s voice in the background in the reprisals of the song in between the lyrics. He is I admit, very subdued in this song. But I like it anyway.

      Cheers!

  22. I would like to see change come about in the power industry as much as anybody.

    My first job was as an Electronic and Control Technician at a SE Oklahoma Power Plant. I worked through start up and was the Technician on duty when we went commercial. They were using low sulphur Wyoming coal when I left. The problem is that, after I left, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law requiring all Oklahoma Coal Plants to burn a percentage of total coal used from Oklahoma Lignite. Lignite is high grade dirt loaded with sulphur. The plant got to grandfather itself in, thereby bypassing the usual scrubber process that, had the law passed before it came online, would cut sulphur emissions exponentially. It would have added two maintenance jobs to boot.

    I’m in no way for violence, destruction of property or any other form of covert operations to hamper coal plants. The way I see to make all Power Plants conform is to pressure politicians and to do it in mass, which is the way this site is encouraging.

    I’m a Pro-Life Democrat, but believe those who shoot Doctors are just as guilty as the Doctors who destroy life.

  23. Hi,

    I just saw the documentary and I completely agree with the activists. I think carbon power stations are obsolete, in fact my country (Uruguay, South America) is buying its energy from Brazil, but I´m not so sure about solar panels. They are very expensive and they are not efficient.

    Fed, I think that solar farms in Africa is impossible right now, because nobody is going to invest in a place where you can not have a minimum of security and respect for the law. Maybe I´m a pessimist but I don´t think that Africa will be richer like the oil exporters because the investors will be the same as usual, so the big cut its for them.

    See you.

    Oh, the song it´so beautiful. I really enjoy it.

  24. I posted something and got an error, grrrrr (I normally copy what I write in case that happens, but forgot this time… typical, LOL), now the Internet cafe is closing I can only give you a link to the song which is about a true story of a group of women attacking a BAE Hawk Jet with hammers in the UK because they were supplying them to Indonesia against East Timor – With My Hammer.

    The story behind the song used to be on the website but I can´t find it.

    Peace out.

    P.S. I added this story as you mentioned about ordinary (?) people protesting, so I figured there is more to protest about than just the environment.

  25. But how could we teach this to people who don’t have jobs and even don’t know what they will eat in the end of the day?

    And in the meantime, Real Madrid is spending in a week 65 million euros + 94 million euros just to acquire two footballers, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. 159 million euros = £135 million = $223 million.

    Please, no offence to any football lover here, but isn’t it disgusting and totally indecent in the current economic climate?

    Michèle

    1. I agree. If they try to buy Xabi Alonso from Liverpool next, something should be done to stop them.

      Who will join me in forming a human chain around the Bernabeu goal posts? (You must have your own Barcelona shirt.)

      I joke, of course, but the amounts of money being bandied about are sickening.

    2. Oh, I’m ready to join you (no Barcelona shirt, though), as they are trying to buy Franck Ribéry too…

      I know, I know, he already doesn’t belong to a French football team… 😉

  26. If and when the world will come to their senses. We must adhere totally to changes soon. Until the almighty buck or sterling stops getting in the way, we have technology, folks, but the money is more important than saving a planet. Tesla had it, it’s available and a shame his knowledge cannot be scientifically studied to at least try something!

    I agree also. So much money goes to professional athletes. Who pays? The public. The owners have so much cash because we are all suckers around the world for a Championship. Bring back the original Olympic Games where the athletes competed on an even scale. They probably received free meals to tide them over and maybe a free massage! 😀

  27. Fed,

    I’m sorry to say but I don’t care what the athletes make. Free enterprise is a great thing IMHO. It is what the market will bear and it has obviously worked out quite well for the owner of this site. I am proud of how Mr. Gilmour has contributed to society and it took the gobs of money that he has made in order for those things to happen. Should he have not toured his show b/c of the strain on the environment? No CDs?

    I just think some of the opinions on this site are VERY good-hearted and well meant but just not realistic at all. Free enterprise takes a beating on here almost as much as my country. 🙂

    I am obviously not a socialist in the least! I think it would breed mediocrity and laziness.

    Blake in Nashville

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