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An environmental group from the No Dash for Gas campaign have occupied the chimney of an EDF power station in Nottinghamshire in protest against the Government’s latest energy bill.
The bill is to be published later this month, and has been deemed “illegal” by the group.
Laurie Jones, spokesperson for the No Dash for Gas campaign, told Impact that “the government’s energy bill looks like it is going to give the green light to a new generation of gas fire power stations, which would be completely incompatible with the climate change targets that we’ve already signed up to.
“The climate change bill commits us to 80% initial reductions by 2050 with 60% by 2030, so building a new generation of gas fire power stations will make it impossible to reach these targets.
“In essence it would be illegal.”
Fifteen protesters scaled two chimneys at the new EDF power plant at 2.30am on Monday morning. 6 protesters are still camped up the 80 metre chimney after five days of demonstrating.
“It’s very clear the climate is already changing,” said Jones. “We need to be investing in a new electricity system that isn’t based on fossil fuels within the next five years if we’re going to have a chance of staying within the limits of what the climate can manage. Otherwise we’re going to hit runaway climate change.”
“And yet the Government is going in completely the opposite direction. It’s in the pocket of the fossil fuel lobby and is not listening to its own scientific advisors.
The group are using direct action to get their message across because they argue that “the democratic process has completely broken down”.
Symptomatic of this wider political problem is what the group claim is a “cosy” relationship between local Labour MP John Mann and EDF. Mann has accused the group of wasting money that could otherwise have been spent on environmental initiatives.
Jones commented that this particular power station was chosen to stage their protest because “This is the newest gas fire power station, and is still under construction so only one of the chimneys is operational. We want to stop the dash for gas so this was the obvious target.”
EDF powered down their chimneys as soon as the protest began, and say they will keep them shut down until the protest is over.
Criticism has been directed at the group from some of the workers of the EDF plant, who since the protest have been moved off the site. However the group have said that the workers should instead place blame with EDF for not giving them “decent pay, employment conditions and workers rights”.
They have also said that they will hand themselves over to the Police when they descend the tower. The group currently has enough food and water to remain in the chimney for a further two or three days. They will make a collective decision to come down together.
Jones stated that “Everyone has accepted that they are going to be arrested after this. We feel it is an acceptable consequence because we feel so strongly about this issue”.
However the efforts to raise awareness about climate change will not stop after this protest.
“This is just the start. You’re going to see a lot more direct action like this over the next couple of months – more direct action around gas and other fossil fuels, and also in support of renewable energy and a sensible government policy that will actually reduce our emissions fast enough so we can reduce climate change.
“We really feel like we’ve touched something that people feel very strongly about. People are so relieved that we are doing something about the outrageous direction the government is taking our energy policy in. I think we’ve really inspired and reinvigorated a lot of people who care about climate change.”
Antonia Paget, with additional reporting by Emily Tripp and Ellis Schindler.
Update 11.15 am 5th November:
All protesters have come down from the powerplant and have given themselves up to the Police. No Dash for Gas say that this “has fired the starting pistol on a new wave of climate change action”.