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Protest blocks coastal road at Bacton

PUBLISHED: 11:00 01 April 2008 | UPDATED: 12:43 20 May 2010

Protestors chained themselves together for a Fossil Fools Day protest outside Norfolk's Bacton gas terminal this morning.

More than 20 demonstrators laid down in the road near the giant power site as part of a worldwide day of action against the use of fossil fuels.

Protestors chained themselves together for a Fossil Fools Day protest outside Norfolk's Bacton gas terminal this morning.

More than 20 demonstrators laid down in the road near the giant power site as part of a worldwide day of action against the use of fossil fuels.

The actions of the Bacton protestors, who included a woman with a pram and a baby, blocked the main coast road from 6am for almost five hours.

At the Paston end of the road demonstrators had their arms in steel tubes and were chained together across the road.

At the Bacton end they used concrete tubes in a similar blockade.

Banners stretched across the road read “Keep fossil fuels in the ground” and “Shrink or sink”.

Police, some of them armed Ministry of Defence officers, were on scene, diverting traffic around back roads - but some workers were managing to get through by driving across the verges.

The action, which ended voluntarily just before 11am, was one of a set of global protests in 150 countries from Australia to the United States organised by an environmental campaign group called Rising Tide.

The Bacton protest was Earth First! UK, whose spokesman at the scene Catherine Jacobson said the aim was to cause disruption - but was targeted at the fuel companies not the workers.

Bacton is a major energy hub for the nation, handling around a third of its gas supplies, coming in from the North Sea and European pipelines - handled by a range of oil and gas companies before being sent into the national grid.

Just over a month ago it was the centre of another major 999 operation, when a fire broke out in a water treatment plant, sending a convoy of fire engines to the plant.

Today's protest looked set to be a longer-burn stand off, as the authorities looked at how to free the protestors from their chains and clear the road.

At 10am police reinforcements arrived, with more than 20 officers at the Paston end of the blockade.

After discussions with the police the activists freed themselves from their chains, with at least three being taken away in a police van for questioning.

One of the activists, Catherine Lewis, said: “The fossil fuel industry is the single biggest driver of climate change, and gas is no exception. Switching from one fossil fuel to another is not a solution to climate change - the only real solution is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

One of her colleagues Martin Jenkins added: “All around the world today, people are taking action to prevent the fossil fuel industry from destroying our future.”

After the incident ended Supt Jo Parrett said police were “well practiced in dealing with protests” to ensure people could continue their day-to-day lives, adding: “We would rather negotiate with people, but have other tactics as a back up.”

A similar protest took place at an open-cast coal mine at Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, where campaigners chained themselves to excavation machinery and blocked one of the main entrances.

The protestors said they were highlighting the "hypocrisy" of government claims that ministers were taking climate change seriously. They pointed out that coal has the biggest impact on climate change of any fuel and claims that local residents had been opposed to the open-cast mine for many years.

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