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This year's Big Green Gathering in the Mendips has been cancelled, disappointing hundreds of revellers from the West Midlands. As Barbara Panvel reports, there are fears it was called off because of political pressure.

Rianne ten Veen, one of Birmingham’s most active environmentalists,was looking forward to the Big Green Gathering due to start on Wednesday where she had been invited to speak on community engagement in environment, regarding the event as her annual holiday.

She told me: “Yesterday the organisers were forced to cancel the event due to 'serious concerns from Mendip District Council and emergency services about public safety and possible crime and disorder'.

"Mendip Council had threatened BGG with a High Court injunction which BGG was bound to lose as it was on a technicality of not having a road closure permit, which relevant authority had long promised was under control. BGG had a permit for the event itself since June.

”But how strange is that as a reason: the event has taken place since 1994 without ever any problem, it is an event "for people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children's future and life in general" and just 15-20,000 people attending (while Glastonbury - which takes place 'next door' to BGG is the "largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world", had 134,000 people attend in 2008 and took place again just last month, with lots of drink and 24hr music, NOT the idea of family event like BGG).”

John Vidal in the Guardian writes: Festival directors today accused the police of taking a politically motivated decision to shut down the festival on the grounds that it attracts environmental activists and would have raised money for a major climate change demonstration, Climate Camp, to be held next month.

"It was a premeditated political decision made at least a week ago. There were going to be people from the Climate Camp here as well as Plane Stupid. It could be seen by police as gathering ground of radicals," said festival chairman Brig Oubridge . Climate Camp demonstrated in London during the G20 meeting and at Kingsnorth last year, while Plane Stupid have taken direct action at Stansted and Aberdeen airports.

“Oubridge said they had been negotiating with the police and the council until the last minute and that all concerns were being met. "We genuinely believed that things were progressing and we were continuing to spend money on infrastructure, wages and security. If they knew they were going to cancel the event, we can only conclude that this appears to be a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Big Green Gathering."

“The Climate Camp is to be held in a few weeks' time. Kent police's blanket use of stop-and-search powers on thousands of activists at the Kingsnorth demonstration last year was recently found to be "disproportionate and counterproductive", according to an official review.

“The Big Green Gathering spun out of the first Glastonbury festivals and has been running in its present form since 1994 without complaints about public safety or crime. It features music, debates and practical green living demonstrations.”

Naturally the government is encouraging the alcohol and music industries – profitable to them in tax terms – and subverting protest about extending aviation and coal-fired power stations.

No doubt alcohol, music, aviation and power generation moguls will show their appreciation . . .



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