Protest at Drax power station marks 10 years since first ‘Climate Camp’

For immediate release: 22nd October 2016

Protest at Drax power station marks 10 years since first ‘Climate Camp’

Photos are free to use under Creative Commons licence CC BY. Please credit Sebastian Wood/Biofuelwatch

This afternoon more than 60 people gathered outside Drax Power Station to protest against the power station’s burning of coal and wood, which is causing destruction of forests worldwide and contributing to climate change [1].

This is the largest protest at Drax since the first ‘Climate Camp’ in 2006 when a group of 600 attempted to shut down the power station [2].

The protesters claim they are not here to disrupt the operations of the power station, but instead call for an end to Drax’s £470 million-a-year subsidies for their part-conversion to burning biomass – wood pellets – which the protesters have denounced as “Greenwash” and “a carbon con” [3].

Frances Howe from the group Biofuelwatch, co-organisers of the protest, commented “burning trees should not be classed as renewable energy – trees take decades to grow and minutes to burn. Most of Drax’s pellets are imported from North America and many come from clear-cutting the remnants of virgin wetland forests in the southern USA, which are home to thousands of species. Last year Drax alone burnt pellets made from 12 million tonnes of wood – more than the UK produces annually. There’s absolutely no way burning wood on this scale can ever be sustainable.”

“Last year, Drax cashed in on over £1 million in subsidies every day, whilst support for genuinely low carbon wind and solar energy was slashed. This is madness – both for the environment, and economically.” [4]

Anne Harris from Coal Action Network, another of the organisers, said “It’s a disgrace that Drax is receiving huge subsidies whilst continuing to burn 6 million tonnes of coal a year. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Since the first climate camp we have stopped 7 new coal power stations from being built. Now it is vital that we stop burning coal completely – the communities living next to opencast coal mines and those at the frontlines of climate change cannot wait another ten years for a phase out.” [5]

Local Dongria Kondh from Yorkshire tree-planting organisation Treesponsibility adds, ‘We have felt the direct effects of climate change here in the Calder Valley with the recent devastating floods. Our tree-planting efforts are in part an attempt at flood mitigation but what we really need is for climate change to be addressed head on at government level by closing down dirty power stations like Drax and financing genuinely clean energy solutions, like wind, solar and home insulation.”

The protest was part of a series of protests worldwide to mark the Global Month of Action Against Dirty Energy [6]. At the demonstration, protesters heard from speakers, including ex-Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, and heard statements from Russian and Colombian campaigners whose communities have been devastated by coal mining for Drax.

———– ENDS ———–

Contacts: Anne Harris, Coal Action Network, 07876532846 info@coalaction.org.uk

Claire Robertson, Biofuelwatch, 07856715542, biofuelwatch@gmail.com

Notes for Editors

[1] Drax burns more coal than any other power station in the UK (6 million tonnes) and more wood than any other plant in the world (12 million tonnes – 1 million more than the UK produces in total every year.) See http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/axedrax-campaign/ for full details about Drax power station, including sourcing of its wood and climate impacts, calculations of the subsidies the company receives.

[2] For information on climate camp, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_for_Climate_Action. This organisation was disbanded in 2010 and morphed into Reclaim the Power https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/ which in previous years have held high profile camps against fracking in Balcombe and Lancashire.

[3] 1 minute video from New Scientist “Bioenergy the renewable energy scam”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwdgtxMPUs

[4] Report by the NRDC released on Monday finding that replacing coal with biomass is more expensive than solar or wind, and carries a higher emissions risk: “https://www.nrdc.org/resources/money-burn-uk-needs-dump-biomass-and-replace-its-coal-plants-truly-clean-energy

[5] See Coal Action Networks “Ditch Coal” report for details of Drax’s coal sourcing and its impacts: coalaction.org.uk/ditchcoal/.

[6] See reclaimpower.net

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