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Portland palm oil protest: 400 protesters on march
AROUND 400 protesters marched on Portland to vent their fury at plans for a new power plant.
Families from the island were joined by climate change campaigners from around the country to voice their anger at the proposed new biofuel plant on the island.
“We don’t want a power plant, come and join us, sing our chant,” was the song ringing out through Fortuneswell to the sound of drums.
The traffic was stopped by police as the crowd made its way from Portland Heights to Portland Port.
W4B Renewable Energy has been given the go-ahead by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to build the multi-million pound palm oil power plant at the port.
But the marchers are hoping to persuade the Government to overturn the decision after Bristol City Council voted against W4B having a plant in Avonmouth.
Ros Kayes, the Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, said the size of the crowd showed the strong feeling of residents.
She added: “We’ve written to the Secretary of State for Communities John Denham.
“He has the power to revoke this decision if it’s in the national interests and it’s a nationally and globally important issue.”
At the end of the march outside the locked gates to the port campaigners took it in turns to address the crowd.
Weymouth resident Ruth Neary told them the plant should be stopped as she claimed the fumes created could cause cancer and birth defects.
Portland town councillor Richard Denton-White said the power plant should be stopped ‘whatever it takes’.
He said: “W4B said there were going to be five people here. It’s more like 500,” he said.
Fortuneswell resident Carolyn Colmer, 48, is concerned that her nine-year-old daughter Jade’s school, Underhill Junior School, will look out onto the plant in Balaclava Bay.
She said: “I hope the huge support has some effect.”
Fortuneswell shoppers stopped in their tracks and some joined the walk, while drivers honked their horns.
The group No Oil Palm Energy (Nope) distributed leaflets stating that the burning of 30,000 tonnes of palm oil each year to produce electricity could affect health, and the creation of the oil will come at the expense of Indonesian rainforests.
Among the campaigners visiting Dorset was Zenith Milner from London, dressed as an orangutan – an endangered species.
She said: “The turnout shows the strength of opposition against this catastrophic proposal. It’s vital the decision is overturned for the good of local people and the rainforests, including its tribal people and endangered animals.”
Brian Heatley, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, called on the crowd to write to South Dorset MP Jim Knight to use his influence in Government.