Liverpool Earth First! Say ‘People and Planet before Profit and Plunder’.
Last Friday Liverpool cyclists enjoyed a Bike Ride Against Ecocide as part of the Earth First! Summer Dispersal, in lieu of the Earth First! Summer Gathering which usually takes place at this time of year.
The group set out from the Pier Head along the new cycle lane along the dock road to protest outside Liverpool Port. The main focus was the importation of wood pellets, which are burnt at Drax power station – the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter – and cause forest destruction and harm to communities in the South Eastern US. However they were keen to highlight other environmental impacts associated with the port – air pollution in particular.
The group arrived in time to catch the train carrying the wood pellets over to Drax leaving the port. These rail wagons are painted all over with false advertising: highly misleading green claims about how the train’s contents are ‘sustainably sourced biomass for affordable renewable power’. Nothing could be further from the truth, in reality they are costing the Earth.
The group was keen to make the link between local and global issues. A spokesperson said: “Globally the Earth we inhabit is being destroyed by corporations which relentlessly put profit before the planet while governments around the world prioritise unsustainable economic growth above the needs of both human beings and the other animals we share the planet with. Here is no different – across Merseyside our local environment is under threat from profit making companies which put their desire to make money above our desire to breath clean air and access green spaces.”
Riders stopped for a picnic at Rimrose Valley Country Park, which is under threat due to road expansion plans being pushed for by the port.
The group was keen to make the link between corporate interests and a number of issues of local concern:
One company responsible for many of the attacks on our local environment is Peel Holdings, a private company registered to the Isle of Man. This shadowy company exerts a huge amount of hidden political influence on Merseyside and is involved in numerous eco-plundering schemes locally and across the North West. It is Peel, which owns the port, that is pushing for plans to build a road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park as part of its port expansion plans. Peel also wants to expand Liverpool airport, encroaching onto greenbelt land at Oglet Shore. Both of these green spaces provide a vital ‘green lung’ in areas where life expectancy is lower and cardio vascular disease, cancer and breathing problems are higher than in the rest of Liverpool. According to a report by The British Lung Foundation, published in January, 1000 plus deaths annually are directly attributable to toxic air pollution levels in the deprived areas of Liverpool.
Riders continued from Rimrose along the canal taking the scenic route to Walton Prison, part of the inhumane outdated prison estate, to make some noise outside for those incarcerated within. Protesters received a positive response from people passing by and those visiting people inside. Most in prison are victims of poverty and capitalism while the real criminals – those running the country; plundering the Earth and its resources; and exploiting people and animals for profit – are rewarded with power, prestige and dividends for the harm they do.
The final stop of the day was a visit to the grave of Robert Tressell, author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, described as both a masterpiece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written.
Robert Noonan (Tressell) died in Liverpool in 1911 and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave opposite Walton Prison. The current memorial stone was erected in 1977 by subscription sponsored by the Liverpool and Hastings Trades Councils. The wording reads:
“THROUGH SQUALID LIFE THEY LABOURED
IN SORDID GRIEF THEY DIED
THOSE SONS OF A MIGHTY MOTHER
THOSE PROPS OF ENGLAND’S PRIDE
THEY ARE GONE. THERE IS NONE
CAN UNDO IT. NOR SAVE OUR SOULS
FROM THE CURSE
BUT MANY A MILLION COMETH
AND SHALL THEY BE BETTER OR WORSE?
IT IS WE MUST HASTEN AND ANSWER
AND OPEN WIDE THE DOOR
FOR THE RICH MAN’S HURRYING TERROR
AND THE SLOW FOOT HOPE OF THE POOR”.
In keeping with the spirit of Tressell, the names of the other twelve paupers buried in the same grave are also recorded.
Riders then enjoyed a gentle cycle back to Liverpool along the loop line – also known as the Cheshire Lines or route 62 – another pleasant way to cut through the city, under the tree canopy and avoiding the roads. A 20 mile ride in total, much of it off road, and with a number of ecological and social issues raised – the only question at the end of the day was when is the next one?
The protesters made the following demands:
- No to expansion of Liverpool air and sea ports
- No more building on our green spaces – access to nature should be a right not a privilege
- Green jobs – such as training people to retro-fit homes with insulation and other energy saving measures to tackle both fuel poverty, unemployment & climate change
- Less port traffic: to tackle air pollution around the port and scrap plans to build a road through Rimrose Valley Country Park
- No to biomass imports & burning trees for power: As well as destroying forests in the US, harming wildlife and local communities and contributing to CO2 emissions, these imports are taking up rail freight capacity putting more lorries on the roads unnecessarily
- An end to Peel Holding’s influence over local decisions regarding our environment and green spaces: less undue corporate influence – more transparency and accountability.
- An end to mass incarceration of human beings, prisons only serve to exacerbate the problems they are supposed to solve – none are free til all are free!
- Jobs for human need not greed: an end to unsustainable economic growth being put before welfare, health and well-being – there are no jobs on a dead planet!!