French energy giant EDF has dropped its £5million lawsuit against gas protestors in what was described as a “dramatic climb down” by climate activists.
The firm dropped the suit in exchange for banning the 21 protestors facing the massive change from EDF power station sites in future.
It comes as 64,000 people signed an online petition posted by one of the activists’ parents criticising the legal action, while hundreds of customers took to social media sites to say they would leave the company. Another campaign website created about the issue wanted people to tell the supplier “EDF-off”.
The firm had been claiming damages from protestors who scaled the smokestacks of its West Burton gas power station last October, before abseiling into the flues and living inside them for seven days. The chimney had been unable to open the following day with protestors achieving their aim of stopping 20,000 tonnes of CO2 being emitted.
EDF said in a statement: “As a result of this, EDF Energy is dropping its claim for civil damages against them and believes that this is a fair and reasonable solution.”
The campaigners still face possible jail terms when they are sentenced for aggravated trespass on Wednesday next week and in April.
Hannah Davey, a 35 year-old graphic designer and one of the No Dash for Gas activists said: “EDF’s bullying lawsuit has bitten the dust because people power fought back… Only a few of us went up that chimney, but 64,000 people came down.”
She went on: “We need to stop the dash for gas before it crashes our carbon targets and makes the UK dependent on an expensive, imported and highly-polluting fuel for decades to come.”
The energy firm said today it was inviting environmental campaigners to join an advisory panel which would steer its reaction to any protest action in future.
EDF added in a statement: “We share the protestors’ commitment to tackling climate change. That’s why we have committed to reducing the intensity of CO2 emissions from our electricity production by 60% by 2020”.