Monday, 26 October 2009

Climate Activists Seize Didcot Power Station

The following press release concerning today's action at N-Power's Didcot power station is from Camp for Climate Action:

Climate campaigners have this morning shut down N-Power’s flagship coal plant at Didcot in Oxforshire.

The twenty peaceful protesters rode their push-bikes past security guards at 4.30am this morning before splitting into two groups. One team has shut down the giant coal conveyors which feed the boilers at the plant, while a second group of nine men and women has climbed the inside of the iconic 200m-high chimney and reached the top. They say they have enough food and water to stay in place for ‘weeks, not days’ - during which time the plant will be unable to operate. Already the activists in the chimney are securing the route behind them to ensure they can’t be reached by police and security guards.

The huge coal plant in Oxfordshire is owned and operated by German utility company N-Power, which is building new coal plants across Europe and wants to build the first new coal-fired power stations in Britain in 30 years.

A small amount of coal was in the boilers as the invasion occurred. That will last for several hours, after which the protesters will scale the flues at the very top of the chimney (which would normally emit 1000 tonnes of CO2 an hour) and abseil into them, with some of the activists then living inside the chimney for the duration of their occupation. Activists will remain in the flues until their food and water runs out, preventing the station from re-opening.

Amy Johnson, 20, one of the protesters at the summit of the huge 200m chimney said:

We’re a bunch of ordinary people who met at the Climate Camp this summer and were inspired to actually do something about climate change. We rode our bikes into the power station this morning and now we’re on the top of the chimney. To be honest we’re quite surprised at how easy it all was. I didn’t quite expect to be here.

Since E-ON shelved their plans to build a new coal plant at Kingsnorth this month, we realised N-Power is the new frontline. They haven’t dropped their plans to build the dirtiest new power stations in Britain for thirty years, and they’re constructing new coal plants right across Europe. We’re going to stay here until they say they’ll stop building new coal plants. We know that might take a while but we’re patient and we’ve got plenty of supplies to stay up here. We’re talking weeks, not days

We decided the most powerful place we could set up a Climate Camp would be at the top of N-Power’s most iconic chimney, and that’s what we’ve done. I’d be a liar if said I wasn’t scared climbing up this smokestack, but climate change scares me a lot more. We’ve got people locked on to the coal conveyors and people are going over the top and inside the actual chimney. There’s no way we can be reached, we’re in control of this power plant and we’re not moving any time soon.

The protesters researched today’s action carefully, putting the safety of N-Power staff and the activists first. The climbers preparing to abseil into the chimney are fully trained and highly experienced. The activists only shut down Didcot after confirming that their actions would not cause power cuts – there is always slack in the National Grid to cope with generating outages, forced or otherwise. If there is a displacement of emissions from coal to gas (or no generation) it will reduce net CO2 emissions in the course of the occupation by tens of thousands of tonnes.

In every country CO2 emissions are linked to economic growth, so in countries like the UK our insatiable hunger for more and more products and consumer goods is driving climate change. The world’s finite resources need to be shared more fairly, and the richest countries which got us into this mess need to take the lead in reducing emissions. We’re on this chimney to demand climate justice as the world prepares to meet in Copenhagen. We’re defending human life and people’s property around the world that’s in immediate need of protection from the ravages of rising temperatures.

While N-Power claims that new coal is necessary to ‘keep the lights on’, in reality its push for new coal plants at Tilbury and Hunterston is motivated by profit, with coal-burning being cheaper than other fuels despite its enormous climate impact. Consultants at Poyry - Europe’s leading independent energy experts - found that Britain could easily meet its energy demands without resorting to new coal as long as the country hits its renewable and energy efficiency targets.

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