Saturday, August 29, 2009

Climate Camp comes to Blackheath
In common with many local people, I was very concerned when I heard that the "Climate Camp" protest had decided to pitch its tents on Blackheath.

Although billed as an environmental awareness campaign, it is fair to say those organising and attending it often have a rather wider agenda. For example, their website covers "anti-bank" protests, demonstrations against the arms trade, alleged police brutality, and so on. All fair enough if they want to campaign on those issues too, but it does seem as though the serious issue of climate change is being used as a banner to connect a range of anti-capitalist causes.

The danger is always that events like this indulge the ego of the organisers, and are good fun for those taking part, but by being unfocussed and attracting negative coverage, actually damage the causes they seek to promote. Hugo Rifkind of the Times wrote a wonderful article on this.

But as a local resident and Councillor, my main concern is that the camp doesn't leave Blackheath in a mess. It would be ironic indeed if an environmental protest messed up one of London's nicest green spaces. The group have now issued a letter to residents claiming that they have a good record of cleaning up after themselves, but I think any claim to be wholly responsible is rather undermined by the fact they refused to co-operate with the police and other authorities about the location of the camp. I hope they keep their promise, and will be checking the site myself when they leave.

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