Climate activists escape jail sentences for power station shut down

no-dashPosted Thu 6th Jun 2013  ‘No Dash for Gas’ campaigners given conditional discharges and community service orders for power station occupation

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 [1].

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 [2] 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 [3].

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 [4]. 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

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[1] See http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/
[2] www.change.org/edf21
[3] 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
[4] See http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/