MORE than 20,000 activists from around the world are expected to take part in demonstrations against the NATO summit in Newport this autumn.
A week-long peace camp and a counter summit are among some of the events planned in what has been billed as Wales’ largest protest in a generation.
The No to NATO Newport umbrella group – made up of anti-war and anti-cuts activists working with the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Green Party – is working to organise protests.
Chief Constable Jeff Farrar told the Gwent Police and Crime Panel last Friday: “We’re expecting loosely 20,000 plus protestors, the majority will be peaceful campaigners.”
He said: “There will be an element of protestors who will be here for other purposes, we expect there to be protests for 7 to 10 days. It could be in Newport, Cardiff or London.
"We have got to plan for the worst.”
The force's priority is the safety and security of high profile heads of state and to minimise disruption, Mr Farrar added.
The Celtic Manor Resort, where the event will take place from September 4th to September 6th, will itself be closed off to the public three to four days before the start of the event for the police to search and seal the premises.
According to a statement from No to NATO Newport, protest events will start on August 30 and will include a weekend march, a counter summit, a week-long peace camp, and protests on the summit’s opening day.
The group says the protests could be the biggest in Wales in a generation.
Wales Green Party leader Pippa Bartolotti said: “We’ve got a lot of interest across Europe and some from the United States... We’re expecting a large contingent from Germany but also from France.”
The protests will include a counter summit, which Ms Bartolotti suggests it is provisionally booked for Newport Centre, as well as a march across Wales
She added that Newport was “about to be shafted, again. £40 million of public money was spent on the Ryder Cup, and the cost of the NATO meeting together with all the associated security and policing costs will be of no benefit to Newport, the jobs it needs and the people whose lives it will inconvenience.”
“The least we can do is voice the arguments against holding the Trident nuclear arsenal – due to be updated at a cost of £100billion over its 25 year lifetime – which will never be used, and which will largely be paid for by the very poorest in society,” she added.