Statement on Sentencing


Today eight members of “Matt Ridley’s Conscience” declared themselves guilty of aggravated trespass for an action at England’s largest opencast coal mine, Shotton, on 26th October 2015. The protestors have been sentenced to a twelve month conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation and costs exceeding £10 000. Click here to contribute to our crowdfunder.

In response to the conviction, Matt Ridley’s Conscience makes the following statement:

Today Matt Ridley’s Conscience declare ourselves guilty. Matt Ridley’s actions play upon our minds constantly. We cannot sleep for the guilt.

Though we chose to declare ourselves guilty in court, we see this as no reflection of morality. We are proud of the actions we took on 26th October to stop the destruction caused by Shotton opencast coal mine.

We urge Matt to listen to his Conscience and to wake up to the consequences of his actions. The coal profits lining his bank account come at the cost of the deaths and displacement caused by climate change.

Shotton coal mine lies on climate-denying millionaire Ridley’s ancestral estate. He wields his power and influence as a member of the House of Lords, a columnist for The Times and speechwriter for disgraced ex-Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, to deny the realities of climate change and to defend his coal profits.

This case highlights some of the structural injustices that lie at the heart of the climate crisis. Those most effected by climate change bear least responsibility, while the powerful like Ridley continue to profit from disaster.

In shutting down Shotton mine in October, we acted upon our conscience; peacefully and with respect. Yet the state prosecutes us while Ridley and Banks Mining Group are judged ‘lawful’ in profiting from pollution.

Faced with laws that defend climate criminals, Matt Ridley’s Conscience had no choice but to disobey – we urge others to join in. Be the Conscience you want to see in the world.

  1. On 26th October 2015 Matt Ridley’s Conscience took direct action at Shotton open cast coal mine, Northumberland. For more information, view our original press statement.
  2. To paraphrase section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the crime of aggravated trespass is trespassing on land while doing anything intended to disrupt, obstruct or deter through intimidation any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land.
  3. Each of the eight convicted co-defendants has been ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge, £150 in court fees, £85 in prosecution costs and £883.76 in compensation to Banks Mining Group.