Activists from the direct action group Reclaim the Power stopped construction at a new gas power station in Lincolnshire yesterday and held a hundreds-strong protest at energy company Drax’s London office, to protest their attempt to build a new gas power station in a climate crisis.
The site of SSE’s new Keadby 2 gas power plant in Lincolnshire was shut down, with both entrances blocked and activists occupying two cranes, stopping work on the new plant, the only currently in construction in the UK.
SSE has plans to develop more gas power stations - supported heavily by government subsidies. SSE are one of the dirtiest energy suppliers in the UK, the campaigners claim, with 65 percent of the energy they sell comes from polluting gas.
Hundreds of activists gathered at Drax’s offices in London, dressed in white boiler suits and with a four-metre high model gas tower. They were protesting Drax’s proposed new gas plant in Yorkshire, which would be responsible for as much as 75 percent of the emissions budget for the entire UK power sector.
New Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom is due to make a decision on the proposal by October.
The campaigners claim that the UK cannot afford to build any additional fossil fuel infrastructure in the UK if it intends to stay within national legally binding climate targets. Activists have also targeted branches of Deloitte and Barclays who provide services to the gas industry.
Speaking from Keadby, Ellie Groves said: “New gas spells climate disaster, that’s why we’re here today at Keadby.
“Temperatures hit 38 degrees in the UK last week, and extreme weather is already devastating many parts of the world. We’re standing with the people most impacted by the climate crisis.
“Polluting gas power stations like Keadby line the pockets of Big Six energy bosses at our expense. We need clean, cheap, community-controlled renewable power.”
Speaking from the Drax protest in London, Milo Phillips said: “The government’s promises to act on climate change are meaningless while dirty gas power stations are still being built.
“Drax’s gas plant in North Yorkshire would be the largest gas power station ever built in the UK. Drax and Keadby are the first in a possible wave of a new generation of dirty mega projects, built to pollute for decades. Today we’re sending a clear message. We can’t afford any new climate-wrecking gas plants.”
Despite industry claims, research shows that additional gas capacity is not necessary for the UK’s energy supply – surging renewables are directly replacing old coal.
A Drax spokesperson said: “Everyone has a right to peaceful protest. Climate change is the biggest challenge this generation faces. Natural gas has an important role to play in supporting the transition to a net zero carbon economy.
"Building new, more efficient gas power stations will help the UK to meet its climate objectives while ensuring homes and businesses have the power they need at a price they can afford.”
Marianne Brooker is content editor of The Ecologist.