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International solidarity bike ride arrives at Bellanaboy.

For immediate release - 5th June, 2010

International bike ride links communities in resistance:
Merthyr to Mayo cyclists arrive at the Shell refinery in Bellanaboy.
Photos attached. Please email if you would like them in a different size.

On Friday 4th June, a 60-strong international bike ride(1) arrived in Erris to a warm welcome from local campaigners at the Bellanaboy Shell refinery site. The cyclists have ridden 500 miles from Merthyr Tydfil(2), Wales to Erris, County Mayo, where local people have spent the last ten years fighting a Shell-led gas development(3). The cyclists joined with local campaigners at the refinery gate & then traveled on mass to the Rossport Solidarity Camp where over 200 people are meeting for the 2010 summer gathering.

Around thirty cyclists from the UK joined the “Madrid to Mayo”(4) cycle ride in Cork, and many others from Ireland joined on route. The riders have spent ten days travelling up the west coast of Ireland, distributing a specially produced newspaper, “Changing Times”(5). Events were held along the way, and each night the cyclists were hosted by different community organisations. The ride aims to offer direct support to these two local campaigns resisting the fossil fuel industry.

Cyclist, Joe Green explained:

“Cycling is a lot of fun, but there is a serious issue at the heart of our ride.  The line we are drawing from Merthyr to Mayo is a reminder that none of us can afford to see these places in isolation.  The troubles faced by these communities are not a coincidence.  They are the inevitable result of our  carbon addiction and an economic system that requires infinite growth on a finite planet.  We need to start putting people before profit.”

Erris resident, Terence Conway said:

"We welcome the cycle ride to Mayo. Our communities’ stories are repeated across the globe in the places where fossil fuels are sourced. Large corporations move into areas regardless of the wishes of the affected population; resources are extracted and, whilst the corporations reap vast profits, the local people have to suffer the health and environmental consequences. And, as the fossil fuels are burnt they contribute to climate change, affecting everyone.”

Both communities have a long history of resistance, and their efforts have resulted in notable successes. In Erris, Mayo the campaign won a sizeable victory in November last year, when Shell’s application for their onshore gas pipeline was effectively refused by the planning authorities; it is unclear when (or if) permission will be granted in the future. In Merthyr Tydfil, campaigners are currently taking out a Group Private Nuisance case against the mining company, Miller Argent. Significant numbers of local people are participating in the legal action which aims to limit the mine’s impact on residents. Climate activists recently supported these efforts by blockading coal trains headed from the mine to Aberthaw Power Station.(6)

The two community struggles and the caravan are parts of a growing global movement for social and environmental justice.(7)

ENDS

For comment/verification contact:
Nancy Serrano:
Terrence Conway:

Notes to editors

1 Caravan website: www.merthyrtomayo.org (news and photographs of the ride will be posted in the blog section over the two weeks)

2 Residents of Merthyr Tydfil are fighting the development of the UK’s biggest opencast coal mine. Mining company, Miller Argent, intend to excavate 10.8 million tonnes of coal from the site; this coal will produce over 30 million tonnes of CO2. The mine is located just 36 metres from the nearest homes; since work began in 2007, noise and air pollution have impacted heavily on the local population. For more information: stopffosyfran.co.uk

3 www.shelltosea.com

4 www.inventati.org/bicilab

5 http://www.merthyrtomayo.org/wp-content/uploads/03/Changing-Times-smallest.pdf

6 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/26/coal-protest-ffos-y-fran Several of the cyclists on the ride took part in this direct action.

7 Some of the cyclists on the caravan have recently returned from the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. See: http://www.climate-justice-action.org/mobilization/cochabamba/