On Monday 2nd November the final two campaigners from No Dash for Gas abseiled down the side of one of the chimneys they have been occupying at EDF’s West Burton power station for the past 7 days. It marks the end the most audacious and high profile direct action in recent years.
The seven day protest saw 16 activists occupy the flues of two of the chimneys at the UK’s newest gas-fired power station. Whilst up there, they rigged a rope between the two chimneys and people were able to travel across. The group, No Dash for Gas, were there to stop emissions, halt construction of the power station and highlight the senselessness of the government’s proposed ‘dash for gas’ in the upcoming Energy Bill. In a move that the government’s own Select Committee on Climate Change has said might be illegal, the government wants to build up to 20 new gas-fired power stations. This would lock us into relying on fossil fuels for another 30 years, making it impossible to hit emissions reductions targets, and ensuring household energy bills continue to rise.
Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the campaigners and the last person coming down from the chimney, said:
“This was the first time activists have managed to successfully shut down a power station, and the longest occupation of a power station the UK has ever seen. We stopped 20,000 tonnes of CO2 being emitted, prevented any construction work on the site for a week and got our message about how reckless and ridiculous, let alone probably illegal, George Osborne’s proposed ‘dash for gas’ is out to thousands of people. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved – but it’s only the start of the battle for our energy future.”
During the week-long occupation, Energy Minister John Hayes’ anti-wind farm outburst demonstrated that the Coalition’s energy policy is in utter disarray. We also witnessed Hurricane Sandy wreak unprecedented damage in one of the most severe warnings of the effects of climate change the world has seen. By shutting down West Burton for a week, No Dash for Gas have demonstrated the need to make the transition away from a fossil-fuel-dependent energy infrastructure.
Danny Chivers, one of the campaigners who occupied the central chimney, said:
“Hurricane Sandy demonstrated all too clearly that climate change is already serious – and it’s only getting more so each month it gets ignored. Companies like EDF are getting away with murder, for the sake of some short-term profit. They are burning more and more fossil fuels, like gas, when we desperately need a sustainable and fair energy system. The technology to supply our energy needs through renewable energy sources already exists, but the people with the power are recklessly and irresponsibly ignoring this.”
The new ‘dash for gas’ will leave us dependent on a highly polluting and increasingly expensive fossil fuel for decades to come. It would make even our modest carbon reduction targets impossible to hit, and cause household energy bills to soar even further. While energy companies profit, our chances of a secure and sustainable future are slipping away.
This action is therefore in defence of the global commons, which are under sustained attack by polluting fossil fuel companies. These activists are here to challenge corporate power and the rush to further ingrain an energy system that puts short term profits of the few, above the collective needs of the many.
Replacing our outdated energy infrastructure with clean alternatives will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs. The technology is already powering thousands of homes across the UK, and enjoys overwhelming public support.
This is an opportunity to wrest power from a cartel of energy companies, and back into the hands of communities. The dash for gas makes no sense for anyone except the big energy companies. We need a cleaner, more resilient and economically just energy system – and we’re here to fight for it.
For more information about the ‘dash for gas’, the case against it and the better solutions available, please visit: www.nodashforgas.org.uk
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Written by Danielle Paffard- MYM Founder