Twenty-one climate campaigners were sentenced today at Nottingham Magistrates court for taking part in a week-long occupation of EDF's West Burton Gas Fired Power Station last Autumn .
Despite fears that some of the protesters might be facing jail terms, they were given lesser – but still punitive - sentences ranging from 18 months conditional discharges for five of the protesters, to varying numbers of hours of community service. On sentencing, the judge remarked, “All of you are highly educated men and women, industrious committed individuals who wok and volunteer in your communities. Your motives were genuine... what you planned you executed to perfection.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Rachel Thompson said: “Although – thank goodness - none of us are going to jail, we are still facing penalties for simply standing up for clean, safe and affordable energy. Meanwhile, everyone in the country will be facing a disastrously destabilised climate and rocketing fuel bills if we don’t stop the Government's reckless dash for gas. The Government is putting the profits of the Big Six energy companies before the fundamental need for a safe and liveable climate for generations to come.”
More than 64,000 people signed a petition  in support of the No Dash For Gas protesters after EDF launched a £5 million damages claim against them. The lawsuit was quickly dropped in the face of this public outcry, and support for the campaigners seems to have remained strong. Over a thousand people have pledged to congregate outside EDF's London offices this evening in a solidarity vigil in support of the defendants .
Supporters of No Dash For Gas have also vowed to return to EDF's West Burton power station for a four day “Reclaim The Power” action camp in August . The "Climate Camp-style" gathering is expected to attract a mixture of climate campaigners, pensioners facing fuel poverty and anti-austerity activists, and promises a "surprising and inspiring mass action".
Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the 21 defendants said after the sentencing: “Reclaim the Power is about just that – reclaiming the power to decide where our energy comes from, what we use it for and how we organise our society in the public interest, according to people's needs and not for corporate greed. A decentralised, renewable, publicly-owned energy system is both possible and necessary if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and ever-worsening fuel poverty".
Eight minute documentary of the action and protesters is available at: http://youtu.be/HovQqw9jEJY
*** ENDS ***
 See http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/
 See https://www.facebook.com/events/549817328384415/ EDF Offices: Cardinal Place, 80 Victoria street, London. Members of Fuel Poverty Action, UKUncut, Disabled Peoples Against the Cuts and the Greater London Pensioners Association will be attending and available for interview
 See http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/
This a press release by our friends from EDF-OFF - their protest plans for May 1st have forced EDF to reschedule their major conference!
EDF ‘let’s talk power’ conference shut down by protest plans
EDF Energy, majority owned by the French Government, was in full retreat today as their annual London energy conference "Lets Talk Power", scheduled for May 01, was cancelled due to "planned protests". Organisers cited latest advice from police that "there could be disruption in the Blackfriars area which might complicate journeys for delegates travelling to and from the conference."
A counter event "Lets talk People Power", organised by EDF*off and others in solidarity with No Dash for Gas, was scheduled for May 01 and had attracted 500 confirmed attendants. The counter event called on protestors to “shut down the EDF conference” following EDF Energy’s 5 million pound lawsuit against the No Dash for Gas activists who occupied EDF owned West Burton power station for a week last autumn. This is the second time this year EDF has had to bow to public pressure, after dropping the civil claim against the activists last month.
Reacting to the news, Joel Benjamin of EDF*off said:
“For the second time in 3 months, EDF Energy has been forced into retreat, due to public opposition to its plans to suppress legitimate protest action, and to lock the UK into decades of expensive gas and nuclear energy by lobbying our politicians.
The decision by EDF to cancel the behind closed doors “Lets Talk Power” event is a victory for protesters who believe that it is our Government should be setting energy policy - acting in the public interest to tackle climate change with investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Government must not succumb to corporate energy lobbyists like EDF who aspire to construct expensive and polluting new build gas and nuclear power stations, when research proves investment in wind energy creates more jobs and brings higher tax receipts for the UK.”
Last month the UK Government approved the controversial EDF Hinkley C Nuclear Power station, even though the "strike price" - the price at which the Government would buy energy from EDF is yet to be decided - effectively resulting in up to 40 years of taxpayer subsidies being handed to the French Government.
The "Lets Talk Power" event has been rescheduled for October, with protesters vowing to ensure that People Power wins out against the dark room dealings of the Big 6.
Photos of the No Dash for Gas power station protest are available from No Dash For Gas - see http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/press
Facebook event for the ‘ Let’s Talk People Power’ protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/277165562415039/
Research on investment in wind http://www.acciona.com/media/660111/en_wind_energy_policies.pdf]
Background on EDF*off: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/10/no-dash-for-gas-edf
Current EDF customers who are switching as a result of the lawsuit are available to comment.
One of Britain's most powerful energy companies is facing acute embarrassment today after it was forced to drop a highly controversial £5m lawsuit against a group of climate change campaigners. The humiliating climb-down by EDF follows an unprecedented backlash in which hundreds of customers deserted the company and 64,000 people signed a Change.org petition posted by one of the activists' parents.
The record £5m claim against members of No Dash for Gas was described by commentators as "a disgraceful attempt to close down peaceful protest" and "vindictive bullying", while anti-cuts group UK Uncut and Greenpeace warned that it could change the face of protest in Britain. After three weeks of campaigning and a public outcry, EDF's lawyers approached the campaigners offering to withdraw the lawsuit before formally surrendering today.
The damages claim related to a week-long protest last October when twenty-one No Dash for Gas activists shut down EDF's newly-constructed West Burton gas-fired power station. Sixteen of them scaled the smokestacks before abseiling into the flues and living inside them, preventing the scheduled opening the following day of a new chimney, and stopping 20,000 tonnes of CO2 over the course of their seven day occupation (Broadcast quality clipreel of the protest is available for download here).
The campaigners face possible jail terms when they are sentenced for aggravated trespass on Wednesday next week and in April. The additional £5m civil lawsuit would have seen some of them also potentially losing their homes, while all of the campaigners would have been forced to pay a percentage of their earnings to EDF until a personal debt of £238,000 each was paid off, or be declared bankrupt.
One of the No Dash for Gas activists, Hannah Davey, a 35 year-old graphic designer, expressed relief that the lawsuit has been dropped:
"For all their power, for all their access and all their wealth, EDF's bullying lawsuit has bitten the dust because people power fought back. They thought they were taking on twenty-one of us, but they soon faced a movement that stood with us against an energy giant and its lawyers. This shows how powerful we are if we all stand together, if we organise and mobilise, if we refuse to back down in the face of the climate crisis. Only a few of us went up that chimney, but 64,000 people came down."
She continued: "This is a huge victory, but sadly it's not enough by itself. Our homes and financial futures are now safe from EDF's lawyers but millions of people won't be safe from fuel poverty and the effects of climate change if the Government and the energy companies' reckless gas expansion plans are allowed to go ahead. We need to stop the dash for gas before it crashes our carbon targets and makes the UK dependent on an expensive, imported and highly-polluting fuel for decades to come."
The lawsuit was raised in Parliament, while one of Britain¹s leading authorities on corporate sustainability and reputation - Brendan May of the Robertsbridge Group - warned EDF that its legal strategy risked "reputational suicide". Supporters of the petition demanding EDF withdraw the suit included Richard Dawkins, Mark Ruffalo, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky. A new website was set up by supporters of the activists, helping EDF customers to easily switch away from the company to a greener provider. Hundreds of EDF customers have already taken to social media to say they¹ve left the company.
Danielle Paffard, 26, works for a credit union and is another No Dash for Gas campaigner celebrating victory over EDF. She said: "EDF has sustained an unmitigated defeat. A domineering company with an appalling record of pollution was trying to break the climate movement with a lawsuit they thought would silence opposition, but they failed. Our campaign to expose the lie behind the new dash for gas will continue, with a growing movement and new allies. Offshore wind power is on track to be cheaper than gas by the end of this decade. Along with other renewables and energy efficiency, we can keep the lights on, slash pollution and bring down bills, but not with George Osborne¹s forty new gas plants."
Though EDF have dropped the damages claim, they have still insisted on a restrictive injunction preventing the 21 activists from entering EDF power stations in the future. Focus now shifts to Nottingham Magistrates Court, where seventeen of the activists will be sentenced on Wednesday 20th March at 10am. If they receive custodial sentences which they've been told is a real possibility they will be the first activists from the climate movement to be jailed in the UK. A further four campaigners will be sentenced a fortnight later on 2nd April.
It would almost be funny if it wasn't so serious. EDF is a massively profitable energy giant that runs two of the country’s biggest coal power stations. The company is building the first of the Government’s planned wave of new gas plants, regularly ramps up its bills way beyond the rate of inflation, and uses its huge wealth and influence to actively lobby against renewable energy - and yet they're accusing us of causing damage to them.
I decided to do a few sums to put a rough figure on the level of damage that EDF Energy’s CO2 emissions are doing to the rest of the world. Here’s an interesting thing: it comes to around £5 million per day.
When EDF's UK-based coal and gas power stations are all switched on, they produce around 4,400 tonnes of CO2 per hour (based on around 1000 kg per MWh for coal, and 350 kg per MWh for combined cycle gas). The Stern Review in 2006 made a conservative estimate that each tonne of CO2 does around £55 of damage to people's lives, homes and livelihoods around the world, through its contribution to disastrous floods, storms and droughts.
That means that EDF's UK power stations do £240,000 of climate change damage to the world every hour, which is over £5 million per day (if they're all switched on).
Even if you only count their gas power stations, they still clock up £5 million of damage for every eight days of operation.
Obviously, you can't really put a financial value on things like deaths from climate change or species extinctions, or the risk of runaway climate change. This example is just to illustrate that it's EDF who owe all of us big-time, not the other way around. Even if the company's £5 million claim against us had any basis in reality (rather than being based on lots of dubious assertions about the “costs” of a week’s delay on the construction of a power station that was already two years behind schedule) it would be cancelled out many times over by the very real damage they’re doing to the whole of society.
This ties in with some other interesting 5 million examples.
EDF Energy make profits of around £5 million per day in the UK alone. You could see this as a direct transfer, with the company sucking £5 million in damage out of people’s lives and livelihoods around the world, and transforming it into profit for itself.
Meanwhile, since the story broke, EDF's attempt to sue No Dash For Gas has been covered on Channel 4 News (around 1 million viewers per day), Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show (6.5 million listeners per week), BBC1's The Big Questions (around 2 million viewers), and local ITV news in the Calendar and Meridian regions (probably several million more). Plus, of course, coverage in the Guardian and other online newspapers and local papers, loads of reports and opinion pieces on blogs and websites, and massive sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
Taking into account the fact that there's certainly some overlap between all of these news outlets, I reckon we can say with confidence that - at the very least - 5 million extra people now know about our protest thanks to EDF's civil claim.
Now, if only we had £1.7 billion per year like EDF Energy, we could afford to launch a counter-claim against them for the damage that they’re doing to the world. Then maybe we could call up Nottinghamshire Police and ask them to serve the claim on EDF for us...
An easy way to show your support for, and stay up to date with, the No Dash For Gas campaign is to "Like" us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.
First, there was the brilliant singing solidarity event on Monday, when a group of protesters took over the company’s swanky Oxford recruitment event with a surprise rendition of an anti-EDF gospel song. You can watch a great short video of the intervention here.
Then on Wednesday, a senior member of EDF staff came unexpectedly face-to-face with one of the activists his company is suing. The No Dash For Gas campaigner had gone along to the Energy Question Time Debate at the University of the West of England because he knew that one of the speakers on the panel was going to be Gareth Wynn, Communications Director for Nuclear New Build and previously Director of Communications at EDF Energy.
During the Q&A, the campaigner raised his hand, looked Mr Wynn in the eye, and asked him why the company was suing him and his friends for £5 million. It probably isn’t a question that gets asked very often at these sorts of events.
You can hear a recording of the encounter here, and below is an account from the activist himself:
I’m one of the 21 people involved in the “No Dash For Gas” West Burton action and am a researcher in the field of energy so I generally go along to quite a few conferences and debates on energy and climate change issues. The University of the West of England hosted an Energy Question Time on Wednesday which Gareth Wynn, communications director at EDF, attended.
I went along for two reasons :
1) All debates and conferences such as this one are swimming in rhetoric and PR, but they are at least a little more open and investigate the issues in more depth than the articles we see in the mainstream media. So I went along to ask why EDF are trying to close down the debate stimulated by the actions No Dash For Gas collectively took in October.
2) Considering the complete failure of EDF to grasp the scale of the backlash by society and media to their bullying tactics to suppress the issues raised by No Dash For Gas I thought I would see if he and EDF are considering a change in strategy?
His response mainly followed the familiar EDF line about how they welcomed debate, but that it must happen “within the law”. He didn’t explain why, in that case, EDF had decided not to allow the law to take its normal course (we have all already pleaded guilty to Aggravated Trespass, and will be sentenced later this month), but to also pursue a £5 million lawsuit on top of the criminal charges.
Listen carefully towards the end of the recording, and you’ll hear he does make this interesting statement:
"We will as the process progresses listen to the points of view expressed to us and decided what, if anything, to do. We might change our view, we might say right we've made our point that’s enough."
Could EDF be beginning to see sense?
After the debate was finished I chatted to Mr Wynn for a little while. It was interesting that whilst the security were ready to shove me through the door, Mr Wynn took the time to speak to me. Whilst he seemed like a nice person he didn’t understand that the “lawful” activities of his company in emitting CO2 were quite possibly an action that society would one day deem unlawful. He wasn’t able to draw the connection between our occupation of his company's power station and the intention to stimulate debate and raise the profile of fuel poverty, climate change and energy crisis. That maybe the laws of the land don’t currently capture the destructive impacts of his company and the legitimate role groups such as No Dash For Gas have in stimulating debate.
Maybe one day he will look back and give himself a pat on the back for elevating the actions we took in October to a far greater media stage by suing us for £5 million. So in a weird way, thanks Mr Wynn!
If you would like to know a little more on the declining financial environment for investment in gas power stations, and the contextual reasons for our being sued by the big energy powers, there's more information on the Demand Energy Equality blog.
- Petition from activist's parents reaches 10,000 signatures in 48 hours
- EDF Energy's Facebook and Twitter accounts swamped with messages in support of protesters, while EDF customers pledge to switch suppliers
- Major campaign groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and UK Uncut voice their support for “No Dash For Gas”, and Green Party passes emergency motion
- Supporters pledge to “shut down” EDF's flagship Energy Conference on May 1st 2013
Members of the UK public have been expressing their concern in large numbers over an attempted multi-million pound legal claim by EDF Energy, announced this week.
The power company has launched a claim for £5 million in damages against a group of environmental activists called “No Dash For Gas”. The campaigners had occupied and shut down EDF's West Burton gas-fired power station for a week in October and November 2012. They were protesting at the Government's plans for a wave of new gas-fired power stations, and against the role of big energy companies like EDF in lobbying for such an expansion.
Should the claim succeed, several of the campaigners face losing their homes, and all could face bankruptcy or be forced to pay a percentage of their salaries to EDF for decades to come. The amount of the claim represents just 0.3% of EDF's annual UK profits, which rose by 7.5% this year to £1.7 billion.
In response, over 12,000 people have now signed a petition for EDF to drop the claim at www.change.org. It reached 10,000 signatures within 48 hours of its launch. The petition, written by the parents of one of the activists, says:
“England celebrates its right to peaceful protest. We should be applauding and rewarding the group for their actions rather than allowing a multi-national organisation to put them in debt, possibly for the rest of their lives for a sum, which to EDF is a mere drop in the ocean, but well over a lifetime's income for them.”
Many members of the public have also commented on the petition, explaining why they signed it. A selection of these comments can be read below.
At the same time, EDF Energy's Facebook page and Twitter account have been swamped by hundreds of comments criticising the company's legal action, including many messages from EDF customers pledging to switch to a new supplier in disgust. Supporters of No Dash For Gas have made and shared spoof images of EDF's logo, and are claiming that the company's orange mascot “Zingy” is in fact unhappy with the company's civil claim and is being “held hostage” by EDF. When a member of No Dash For Gas was interviewed on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show on Friday, the subsequent public phone-in was almost unanimously in favour of the protesters.
In a letter to the Guardian on Thursday, representatives of thirteen campaigning organisations including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth called EDF's actions “a new low in corporate attempts to stifle democratic dissent”, and called for the claim to be dropped. Yesterday, the Green Party's Spring Conference passed an emergency motion in support of the protesters and condemning EDF.
In a sign that EDF's attempt to deter protest may have backfired completely, some supporters are now planning to “shut down” EDF Energy's flagship “Let's Talk Power” conference in central London on May 1st 2013, in protest at the £5 million legal action. The Facebook page for this protest, called “Let's Talk People Power”, already has over 200 people signed up to attend.
Hannah Davey, one of the 21 activists being sued by EDF, said: “EDF were hoping to stop people from standing up against their profiteering price hikes, shady government lobbying and climate-trashing power plants. However, their civil claim seems to have had exactly the opposite effect, by inspiring thousands of people to speak up and organise in favour of climate action. EDF's PR department must be tearing their hair out."
The original No Dash For Gas occupation aimed to challenge the Government's plan to build up to 40 new gas-fired power stations, which would see gas accounting for over 50% of the UK's power generation over the next three decades. The Government's own Committee on Climate Change have said that a new “dash for gas” would make it impossible for the Government to meet its legally-binding carbon reduction targets, and thus would push us ever closer to the brink of unstoppable climate change.
The Committee also point out that a greater reliance on gas would increase household bills by up to six times more than a shift to renewable energy. These comments were echoed this week by the Chief Executive of Ofgem Alistair Buchanan, who warned that an increased reliance on gas will lead to higher prices in the near future. Campaigners blame the lobbying power of big energy companies like EDF for the Government's current pro-gas position.
Jo Tyabji LONDON, UK: EDF try to market themselves as an ethical choice. This attempt to crush people acting non-violently and out of the utmost principle shows just how ethical they are.
Outraged at Big Energy's bullying of activists to secure their profits and the destructive Dash for Gas?
Fed up with ever increasing fuel bills and worrying how you’re going to keep your home and family warm?
Worried about climate change and what you can do about it?
Are you saddled with debts and feeling like you'll be in the red to companies like EDF for ever? No-one should be....
Stand up for civil disobedience and the right to take direct action in the public interest.
How you can help:
LET EDF KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: tweet, email, call...
Main Switchboard 020 7242 9050
If you think their 'civil action' is wholly un-civil and could be a major PR disaster – tell their Communications Department - 020 7752 2265 and 020 7752 2260
Send them a letter: UK/Europe London EDF Trading (Global headquarters) 3rd Floor, Cardinal Place 80 Victoria Street London SW1E 5JL United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7061 4000 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7061 5000
Crewe EDF Trading Gas Storage Off School Lane Warmingham Nr Crewe, Cheshire CW11 3QN UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7061 4000 Fax: +44 (0)1270 526 052
When tweeting, think about using the hashtag #IAmNoDashForGas – EDF's lawsuit mentions 21 activists by name plus 'persons unknown'. This allows them to sue more people if they can identify them as part of No Dash for Gas.
If you disagree with the government and Big Energy's irresponsible dash to depend on volatile, expensive and dirty gas for decades to come, and you support the right to take direct action to expose this then you are No Dash for Gas too. We'd like EDF to realise that their plan has widespread opposition in this country and that trying to 'own' protesters through a lifetime of debt is bang out of order.
SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT 'NO DASH FOR GAS'
Tell everyone you know about No Dash for Gas and get active on stopping gas becoming the primary source of energy for this country for the next 30 years.
Tweet and email facts, figures and stories from our website. Follow us on Twitter, join our Facebook group and send us messages of solidarity on email@example.com.
INVITE US FOR A TALK
We'll be happy to come and do a presentation on the Dash for Gas, fuel poverty, climate change and direct action. Invite us to your local group meeting, school, university, union branch, pub, place of worship, or community centre and we'll be there!
Evidence of police/corporate collusion as police serve legal papers on
activists on behalf of EDF, and hand over personal data
Key CCTV footage at police station may have been deleted
Counter-Terrorism Command visited activist at home
Home Secretary Theresa May questioned in Parliament
For more information, photos, film footage and interviews email
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07447027112. A new short film of two of
the activists speaking about the civil claim can be seen here:
Following the week-long shut-down and occupation of EDF’s West Burton
gas-fired power station last October by campaign group 'No Dash for Gas',
EDF has launched a civil claim for damages against the group and
associated activists for costs the company claims to have incurred – a
figure it puts at £5 million .
Should the claim succeed, several of the campaigners face losing their
homes, and all could face bankruptcy or be forced to pay a percentage of
their salaries to EDF for decades to come. The amount of the claim
represents just 0.3% of EDF's annual UK profits, which rose by 7.5% this
year to £1.7 billion .
This is the first time an energy company has attempted such a claim, and
campaigners say it represents the opening of a new front against peaceful
direct action protesters. If successful, it could have a chilling effect
on other groups – such as UK Uncut and Greenpeace – who use civil
disobedience to challenge social and environmental problems.
Aneaka Kelly, one of the No Dash for Gas defendants said: 'This un-civil
action by EDF is not about money – they know we don't have this kind of
cash. EDF just want to make sure that anyone who tries to stand up and
challenge their profiteering price hikes, shady government lobbying and
climate-trashing power plants is quickly silenced by the threat of legal
Sixteen campaigners occupied two chimneys at West Burton for a week in
October 2012, stopping nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions . The
activists – 21 in total - were convicted of aggravated trespass at
Mansfield Magistrates Court today. Seventeen are due to be sentenced on
March 20th, and the remaining four on April 2nd.
There is evidence that Nottinghamshire Police colluded with EDF against
'No Dash for Gas' by formally serving civil papers on the activists after
their arrest, and by sharing their personal data with the power company.
In one case officers served the papers on the activists’ lawyer, in
another they chased an activist down the street outside the station and
served the papers on him directly, commenting, “I’m doing this as a
courtesy to EDF” . Last week, the Home Secretary was questioned in
Parliament about whether this kind of practice is routine .
The campaigners believe that Nottinghamshire Police's support for the
civil claim is part of a larger strategy to crack down on environmental
protest, as evidenced by the use of extremely onerous bail conditions on
the activists after their arrest. They were not allowed to associate with
each other and most were subject to home curfews from 9pm to 7am. Those
conditions were only lifted once the company had ordered its own civil
legal strategy against the activists. FOI documents obtained by No Dash
for Gas show that a Special Advisor in the Department for Energy was
liaising with the police about those bail conditions before most of the
activists were even arrested. 
In another incident, Counter Terrorism Command officers visited an
activist at her home to 'remind' her of her bail conditions and caution
her against going within 50 metres of E.ON's Grain Island Power Station.
Deeply concerned by police involvement in the unprecedented civil claim,
the activists’ lawyer Mike Schwarz of Bindmans wrote to the police asking
to view CCTV footage from inside the station, only to be told it had
probably been deleted as footage was only kept for three months – despite
the fact that this three-month deadline had not yet passed.
Aneaka Kelly from No Dash For Gas said: “The police are meant to be
working in the public interest, not acting as EDF's private police force.
If I wanted to sue EDF over their pollution or their price hikes, would
you expect the police to deliver the legal papers to EDF on my behalf, or
hand over the names and addresses of their top executives? Somehow, I
don't think so.”
The protest itself aimed to challenge the Government's plan to build up to
40 new gas-fired power stations, which would see gas accounting for over
50% of the UK's power generation over the next three decades. The
Government's own Committee on Climate Change have said that a new “dash
for gas” would make it impossible for the Government to meet its
legally-binding carbon reduction targets, and thus would push us ever
closer to the brink of unstoppable climate change .
The Committee also point out that a greater reliance on gas would increase
household bills by up to six times more than a shift to renewable energy
. These comments were echoed this week by the Chief Executive of Ofgem
Alistair Buchanan, who warned that an increased reliance on gas will lead
to higher prices in the near future . Campaigners blame the lobbying
power of big energy companies like EDF for the Government's current
pro-gas position .
The case is reminiscent of the record-breaking “McLibel” case, when the
fast food chain McDonalds sued two activists from North London from
1990-1997. Ewa Jasiewicz, another No Dash for Gas defendant said: 'This is
starting to look just like McLibel. It's a David and Goliath battle
between protesters with nothing but their bodies to put in the way, and
out-of-control Big Energy which has a business plan that will drive up
bills, push millions into fuel poverty and crash our climate targets. We
will be resisting EDF's claim every step of the way'.
Notes for editors
 Copies of the legal papers from EDF are available - please email us on
email@example.com or phone 07447027112 to see them. The £5 million
figure was presented in court today, in evidence from Graeme Bellingham,
Project Director at West Burton's, who stated that: 'Delays to the final
completion of the project has caused total losses to EDF in excess of £5
million'. See also
The campaigners calculated that they were stopping 2,371 tonnes per day,
and the action lasted for seven days, so that's 2371 x 7 = 19117 tonnes of
 On Friday 8th February, Caroline Lucas (MP for Brighton Pavilion) put
forward the following question in Parliament:
“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her policy is
on (a) the provision of
information by the police to private companies that are planning or taking
civil legal action against protesters, where those protesters may be
subject to criminal proceedings, (b) the timing of the provision of such
information and (c) provision of other practical assistance by the police
to companies taking civil proceedings, including service or quasi-service
of court papers; whether her Department has established any formal
procedures or organisations to (i) facilitate the flow of any such
information and (ii) establish compliance with or breach of any such
procedures and policies; and if she will make a statement.”
The Home Secretary has not yet responded.
 FOI documents available on request - please email us on
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07447027112 to see them.
 See for example
The activists have issued the following statement:
"We undertook our carefully considered protest action last October out of a sincere belief that companies such as EDF, in collusion with government, are unaccountable, unrepresentative and wrong in pursuing gas as a dominant fuel in our country's energy system.
We have no influence over where and how our energy is sourced, priced and delivered in this country. We believe that these decisions should be made democratically and in the public interest.
Six large multinational corporations have a monopoly over our domestic energy supply and some of their personnel write policy at the Department for Energy and Climate Change. These companies set the energy agenda in this country, to the detriment of the public interest and legally binding carbon reduction targets. We do not have the power, access or capital that these companies have. Civil disobedience is one of the only means we have to intervene in this agenda.
The majority of people in this country want clean, renewable, cheaper energy. We acted out of necessity and, we sincerely believe, in the public interest - to prevent an escalation in the crisis of climate change that threatens the safety and security of millions of people and ecosystems in the UK and around the world."
Dramatic confrontations with Big Energy like occupying power stations play a key role in challenging fuel poverty, but it's the unspectacular daily solidarity and co-organising with communities hardest hit that is also needed..
Fuel Poverty Action started up in October 2011 when a group of climate and social justice activists came together to fuse community organising with an anti-capitalist, climate justice vision of a renewable energy future.
Under the banner of 'warm and decent homes for all' and 'energy for our needs, not for corporate greed' the group wanted to focus on bread and butter issues like housing, poverty, low pay and cruel landlords as well as climate change.
That thousands of people are dying in the UK every winter because they couldn’t afford to put the heating on is shocking, and an indication of the out-of-control power that energy companies have in deciding who will heat or eat. One in four households are struggling with this decision in the UK today.
Protest is a key part of our strategy. We've held a funeral procession at the Treasury and Die-In at EDF's HQ, Winter Warm-Up occupations of town halls, banks, shopping centers and, in January 2012, British Gas's HQ, where we walked in wearing smart suits and barricaded ourselves into two conference rooms next door to the CEO’s office for an entire day.
From starting out as a mainly white, young, middle class protest group, Fuel Poverty Action is now lead by the hardest hit – pensioners, single mums, the disabled, and asylum seekers. It is those who can't move much , either physically due to age or disability or because offinancial precarity who suffer most. One elderly person we work with doesn't turn her heating on until 6pm and lives in one room. Another has a condition that means her joints seize up in the cold but she can't afford proper heating. Several asylum seekers we work with go to community events and meetings every night of the week just to be in warm buildings.
And its getting worse. New research shows thousands of cancer victims are turning off their heating even though their treatment leaves them more vulnerable to the cold. Further benefit cuts will escalate thiscrisis.
In 2012, the government announced it was cutting the winter fuel allowancefor those under 80 by £50 and the over 80s by £100. This is at a time when the Big Six have raised their bills by 9 per cent. Deaths from hypothermia have doubled over the past 5 years. 7000 people died last year because they couldn’t keep warm at home.
The Dash for Gas, including Fracking, pursued by Big Energy and government in the UK today, is profoundly undemocratic and puts people’s lives at risk, both here and overseas. If realised this dash will become a marathon disaster pushing energy bills higher, and plunging millions more into fuel poverty. With dependency on Gas, by 2020 the average annual household bill will have risen by £600. If we transitioned to renewables, this rise would be just £100 – potentially saving the average family £500 a year on their fuel bills. But energy policy in this country isn’t going that way. A decentralised, community controlled energy system is a serious threat to corporate monopolies on supply, transmission and infrastructure. Power to the people could literally mean power to the people and with that a massive contraction in profit and capital for companies.
No wonder that Big Energy is working hard to keep hold of our energy system. Collusion between Big Energy and the government in UK resembles a revolving door of paid-for meetings and mutual 'advice' with employees of Big Six companies actually working for the Department for Energy and Climate Change and writing energy policy behind closed doors.
So what do we do? We don't let capital set the agenda for our climate. We don't let people die because the balance sheets of companies like EDF, EON, British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power, and npower are more important. We need to make private suffering from fuel poverty public, we need to speak out. On debt, on sky-high bills, on poor housing and what we really want, and how we really want to live and look after our planet. Thats why we're holding a 'STOP THE GREAT FUEL ROBBERY' weekend of fuel bill assemblies and action, February 15-18, across the UK.
Already, fuel bill assemblies are planned across London, at the Edinburgh HQ of Scottish Gas (the Scottish arm of Centrica) and, on Saturday 16th February, at the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall. Students and pensioners, asylum seekers and disabled people, environmentalists and anti-cuts groups, will be coming together to speak out and discuss solutions. We’ll be bringing our blankets, our fuel bills, and symbols and examples of the things we’re doing without in order to keep the heating on. Merciless landlords, profiteering energy companies and a government sitting snugly in their pockets are doing all they can to keep up the Great Fuel Robbery. It’s time to turn up the heat and say: enough is enough. Join us!