Activists avoid jail for occupation of EDF gas-fired power station

Twenty-one No Dash for Gas climate activists have been sentenced for their involvement in the 2012 week-long occupation of EDF’s West Burton gas-fired power station.

Sixteen of the activists were sentenced with up to 200 community service hours, while the remaining five were handed conditional suspended sentences on aggravated trespass charges by the UK’s Nottingham Magistrates court.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2012, over two dozen activists evaded security at EDF’s West Burton power station, with sixteen climbing and rappelling down into two of the plant’s 300 ft. smokestacks.

Setting up camp on platforms suspended from ropes inside the flues, the group completely halted construction and power generation at the site through the standoff.  During the occupation, No Dash for Gas explained on its website the station had been targeted because it was one of the first under development in the UK’s recently announced plans to add up to 20 GW of gas-fired power to the grid by 2030.

The seven day protest ended peacefully when the last two activists surrendered to local authorities and resulted in guilty pleas to aggravated trespassing in February.  In March, EDF filed a £5 million civil suit against all 21 participants, but dropped the case following heavy public backlash and the signing of a settlement that placed a permanent injunction against the protestors from entering EDF sites.

In response to the sentencing a spokesman for EDF Energy told The Guardian, "Today's sentencing was solely a matter for the magistrates court. We have invited a range of groups and individuals – including No Dash for Gas – to discuss the company's response to such demonstrations in future." He added, "We share the protesters' commitment to tackling climate change. We are Britain's largest generator of low-carbon electricity."

Meanwhile, No Dash for Gas is reporting that supporters of the group plan to rally again at West Burton in August for what is being dubbed a four day “Reclaim The Power” action camp.

The West Burton combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station is a £600 million project currently under development in Nottinghamshire, England. Upon completion the station will consist of three 430-megawatt gas turbines, each outfitted with a heat steam generator.

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