Power station protest 'cost £6m to police'

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The Independent Online

The estimated cost of policing a week-long protest against climate change stands at just under £6 million, it has been disclosed.

Around £5.9 million has been spent policing the Camp for Climate Action event which was held last month close to Kingsnorth Power Station near Hoo, Kent.

The money, revealed to BBC South East following a Freedom of Information Act request, was spent on officers, accommodation, air support and planning.

But Kent Police expect the figure to rise further as invoices are still to be received from some suppliers, along with overtime claims from some officers.

The force said there are other potential costs to consider, arising from any litigation or other claims, that may take time to resolve.

A police spokesman said it was in negotiations with the Home Office about its contribution to the total cost, which is expected to be finalised in the next few weeks.

Of 100 people arrested during the gathering, 46 were charged, 22 were cautioned, three people were bound over to keep the peace and one person was found to be in breach of bail.

There were some 1,400 police officers from 26 forces deployed to the camp, according to Kent Police assistant chief constable Gary Beautridge.

The protest aimed to highlight opposition to a proposal to site Britain's first coal-fired power station in more than 30 years at Kingsnorth.

It culminated in a mass day of action where attempts were made to shut down the plant, owned by energy company E.ON. The firm said protesters had not affected its power output.

In a statement, Kent Police said: "The current, estimated cost stands at around £5.9 million.

"However, it will be some time before all final costs arising from the operation are known as invoices are yet to be received from some suppliers and, for example, overtime claims for all of the officers involved will take some time to resolve.

"Further, there are other costs to consider, such as ongoing legal costs from any litigation or claims that may take some time to reach a conclusion.

"Kent Police is still in the process of negotiations with the Home Office over their contribution to the total cost. We hope to have a final figure in the next few weeks and we will then make this available and publish on the website."

Andy Rogers, spokesman for the local Kingsnorth Climate Action Medway (KCAM), said: "One really does have to ask whether that £6 million of what is essentially taxpayers' money would have been better spent on holding a moratorium on coal-fired power stations such as the one at Kingsnorth or providing an intimidating and oppressive presence at what was essentially a peace camp."

He added: "Does this figure include the money it will cost the police when they are sued by the people who were injured or intimidated or indeed falsely imprisoned during the camp?

"One also has to ask if this is the cost of policing one such event protesting about climate change and the effects of CO2 emissions as part of that equation. How much is the cost going to be in the long term if these issues are continually ignored?

"How much longer can the Government bury its head in the sand over climate change and the rush back to coal before it becomes too expensive to police, let alone the cost to every living thing in the biosphere?"