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Notes from meeting between Avon & Somerset police and Stop New Nuclear, 31 August 2012

Present: Bruce Turnbull (Avon & Somerset police), Craig Kirk (Avon & Somerset police), Andreas Speck (Stop New Nuclear), Camilla Berens (Stop New Nuclear)

The meeting took place in the Tobacco Factory in Bristol from 1-2.25pm.

After introductions, we began with an explanation that our delay in responding to the initial police request for a meeting was due to a combination of holidays and a technical hiccup, which has now been solved.

Craig first asked about our response to EDF's request for a change of the dates of the Reclaim Hinkley actions to September, as EDF is doing maintenance work on reactors B at that time, and will need 24/7 access to the site for their maintenance workers.

We responded that we checked the dates of their planned outage when deciding on the action, and their website gave September 2012 as planned outage time when we started planning the action. We felt it is now too late to move the dates, as the message has gone out, including all fliers, and it would be difficult to reach out to everyone about a date change.

Craig responded that this is what they had assumed, as they had been monitoring the website, and while the site had been updated, the dates had not been changed.

Craig emphasized that they will again follow the same policing principles as before, a “no-surprises” approach to policing, and that they thought in the past policing was done well, and also that the communication between Stop New Nuclear and the police had been good.

We agreed, but also stressed that their had been hiccups in communication within the police, and also that there had been problems with EDF's private security, which is obviously a third actor to be aware of. It will be important to have a better communication between G4S and the police in the future.

We then explained the plan for the activities in October:

Saturday, 6 October:

Demonstration & rally in Bridgwater: We will assemble at 11:30 at Kings Square, near EDF's Bridgwater offices, and set of at about 12:30 for a demonstration through Bridgwater, the route of which has not yet been decided. We expect to arrive at about 1:30pm at Cornhill, where we will hold a rally from around 2-3:30pm. We are contacting Bridgwater Council about setting up a proper stage there.

At about 3:30, we will go in a convoy with coaches and minibuses to a parking in Nether Stowey, from where we will shuttle people to Hinkley Point for a die-in. We envisage to use the lay-by which was used for our compost toilets during the March action as a drop-off point for the minibuses, as they will be able to turn around there, and people would walk from there to the main gate of Hinkley Point. The die-in will be at about 5pm, and will end at about 5:30pm, and after that people will walk back to be shuttled back to Nether Stowey.

We are thinking of having a pickup truck with a public address system near the gate, where the trailer was stationed last time, to be able to manage the die-in and address the crowds for crowd management purposes. We are not planning to have a rally at the gate.

We requested that the police would either again shuttle those with walking difficulties from the drop-off point to the gate and back, or allow us to use one car or minibus as a shuttle. We acknowledged that their concerns about safety were very valid, as we could see in March, and we did not want to have a lot of traffic on the road at the time of the die-in.

We stressed that we thought a disruption of EDF's access for about 2 hours is reasonable and is covered by our right to protest, and that EDF can reasonably be expected to work their way around it.

The police asked whether people would be using lock-ons as part of the die-in, and we replied that this is designed as a legal and safe protest, and the objective is not to blockade the gate, but a legal and safe protest.

The police also asked about hay bales and toilets, and we replied that that we do not envision to bring any equipment or facilities to the gate, beyond what we mentioned above, as this is a very short protest.

The police pointed out that it will get dark at about 6:30pm in October, and that there are no street lights, and it would not be very safe for people to walk on the road in the dark.

We acknowledged this, and replied that the plan is for the action to be over by about 5:30pm, and even with some leeway built in, people should have been shuttled back to the parking in Nether Stowey by 6:30pm.

When asked about numbers, we could only say that we are expecting hundreds, but couldn't really tell.

The police reminded us that we need to inform them about the route of the demonstration in advance, about7 days, and we replied that we will do this, and did so in March for the surround Hinkley action.

Monday, 8 October 2012

We explained that on Monday, the action is a mass trespass of the Hinkley Point C site, and that we are not planning a trespass of Hinkley A or B, as we are well aware of the dangers of trespassing on a nuclear site. Hinkley Point C is a construction site, and not yet a designated nuclear site, nor covered by SOCPA.

We stressed that the action is an action of civil disobedience, and a nonviolent action. The objective is to trespass onto the site and to sow seeds locally source as a symbolic action, to protest against EDF's destruction of the land even in the absence of a planning permission for the nuclear power station itself, and of a final investment decision by EDF.

We think there will be several groups of people:

  • the trespassers
  • supporters who do not want to risk arrest and want to bear witness to the trespass
  • marked legal observers
  • members of the public who want to see what is happening.

We stressed that the trespass will be organised in affinity groups and via a spokescouncil, and that decisions will be taken by the affinity groups via the spokescouncil.

The police pointed out the fine line between civil trespass and aggravated trespass, (obstructing a lawful activity on private land), and also pointed out that damaging the fence would be criminal damage. They also asked us what people would do once in there, and whether it was planned to lock on to construction vehicles or to do other things.

We again stressed that this was an action of civil disobedience, and that the plan is to enter the site and to sow seeds. However, decisions would be made by the affinity groups and the spokescouncil.
We will make sure during the nonviolence training that everyone knows the difference between civil trespass and aggravated trespass, so that they can make an informed decision, but we also stressed that those participating in the trespass will be prepared to get arrested, and will not be deterred by the threat of arrest.
We stressed that we are not advocating to cause damage on the day.

The police wondered where to draw the line between civil trespass and aggravated trespass. We agreed that any kind of clarification would be useful.

We were asked whether we were planning to stay longer, and we replied that decisions will be taken by the spokescouncil, but that this is not planned by Stop New Nuclear at present.

The police said that at present the action is advertised on the website from midnight until 23:30, and asked us whether we could narrow down the time. We replied that we would bring this request back to the planning group, but that we couldn't tell them now.

We had some discussion about the location for the legal part of the action for those who want to bear witness, and the police said that EDF is constructing access to the C site, somewhere between the field used for parking during the last two actions, and the main gate. This space might be suitable, and EDF might be willing to provide toilets there too.

The police also raised the concern of blockading the main access road to Hinkley A & B, and we said that the focus of the day is on Hinkley C, and not on A & B, and that it is not planned to also do a blockade.

The police said that they might consider a section 14 of the Public Order Act (Imposing conditions on public assemblies) for both, the Saturday and the Monday, but that this has not been decided yet. They said that they would let us know early enough in advance, in line with their policy of “no-surprises”.

We again stressed that we think that for the die-in on Saturday, an obstruction of up to 2 hours is justified and covered by our right to protest/freedom of assembly, and that we will discuss this with our legal team.

Craig Kirk informed us that the planning Silver Commander is Ch Insp John Hunt, who will be on duty on Saturday and Monday afternoon. Silver Commander on Monday morning will be Sup Int. Kevin Instance.

We agreed for another meeting on 30 September at 11am in Swindon.

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