German treehouse protest dismantled by police

activists in a treehouse Image copyright AFP

Police have been continuing to remove anti-coal activists from treehouses up to 25m (80ft) from the ground in a forest in north-western Germany.

For six years, the activists have been occupying land, which was bought by an energy firm long ago.

However the local authorities have now ordered that the land be cleared, saying the protest is a fire hazard.

Police said nine activists had been lightly injured and more than 30 detained.

On Saturday thousands of protesters arrived at the Hambacher Forest site to protest against the clearances.

Image copyright EPA

Image copyright EPA

Energy firm RWE wants to expand a nearby open-pit coal mine and has announced plans to clear half of the forest’s remaining 200 hectares (500 acres) from next month.

However the activists wanted the firm to wait until the end of the year, when a commission is due to present plans for ending the use of coal power to the German government.

Image copyright EPA

They also say the forest is home to protected species including Bechstein’s bat and ancient beech and oak trees.

Thousands of police – including commando units – have been brought in from across Germany to remove the activists.

On Saturday they had cleared about 18 of the about 50 treehouses, with about 180 activists still on the remaining structures, Deutsche Welle reported.

Officers have been tweeting photos of what they have found – including what they said was a trap consisting of a concrete-filled bucket suspended in the air and designed to fall on anyone who set off the trap. They described it “potentially fatal”.

Two activists had also taken up positions in shafts dug 10m deep into the ground but were finally persuaded to come out of their own accord, Deutsche Welle said.

The activists have also been tweeting pictures – including this one showing what they said was the last activist still in one of the treehouses.

Police have also been clashing with demonstrators as they attempt to prevent them from reaching the forest.

Image copyright AFP

Image copyright AFP

Germany has said it wants to increase the amount of energy it gets from wind and solar power from a third now to 65% by 2030 to cut emissions and meet climate commitments.

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