'Political' motives blamed for green festival cancellation

Police and environmentalists clashed earlier this year at the G20 protests
Police and environmentalists clashed earlier this year at the G20 protests

By Gabriel Huntley

A police decision to cancel the UK's largest environmental activism event was politically motivated, organisers have claimed.

The Big Green Gathering, due to be held in Somerset this weekend, was cancelled after police sought an injunction citing safety fears.

But festival organisers believe the event was prevented from taking place because of its focus on green activism and its links with groups such as Plane Stupid and the Climate Camps due to be held next month.

First held in 1994 as an offshoot of Glastonbury Festival's 'Green Fields' area, the annual Big Green Gathering exists to provide a forum for environmental pressure groups and showcase sustainability projects.

It describes itself as a 'festival with a message and a mission' and hoped to attract over 15,000 festival-goers this year

Following the decision to cancel the festival, police are maintaining a presence around the site to deter protesters and direct festival-goers away from the area.

Environmental activists are concerned that the cancellation is part of a wider clamp down on green groups in advance of three Climate Camp events due to be held next month.

This week, the Joint Committee on Human Rights criticised the police's approach to protesters at April's Climate Camp protest during the G20 conference.

Mendip council, which had been in negotiations with festival organisers and the police over the event, has highlighted the concerns it had in the run-up to the festival. These included the event's fire safety certification, security and provision for local road closures.

A spokesman for the council said:

"Although I accept that this will come as a disappointment to some, we have a duty to protect the public and hope this will send out a strong message that we take our licensing responsibilities very seriously and where action is needed we will take it."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.