An online petition demanding EDF to stop its £5 million legal action towards protestors who occupied its West Burton power station is nearing 50,000 signatures.
The French-owned energy supplier has launched a civil claim for damages against members of the No Dash For Gas campaign group, which broke into the power station last October and lived in the cooling tower for a week (pictured).
The parents of one activist involved in the occupation began the petition to challenge what they see as “unfair” behaviour.
They wrote: “EDF are suing Claire and her fellow activists for £5 million. We feel this is totally unfair. The company says that they have to take the consequences for their actions. EDF’s business is to make money, not safeguard the planet for generations to come; theirs is a short term, expedient enterprise. It’s heartbreaking to think that Claire and her friends are being punished for putting themselves at risk for the good of humanity.”
The online petition has won support from green energy advocates. Dale Vince, founder of renewable energy supplier Ecotricity signed the petition, writing: “French Government owned EDF trying to suppress dissent on the streets of the UK using bullying tactics? It’s just wrong. They just want us to buy their nuclear and shut up!”
Campaigners suggest EDF is trying to “silence” protesters in future, a claim the supplier challenges.
Aneaka Kelly, one of the No Dash for Gas defendants said: ‘This un-civil action by EDF is not about money – they know we don’t have this kind of cash. EDF just want to make sure that anyone who tries to stand up and challenge their profiteering price hikes, shady government lobbying and climate-trashing power plants is quickly silenced by the threat of legal action.”
In a statement the energy supplier said the matter is a “criminal case”: “The protesters were brought to court to face charges following their arrest by police at the West Burton gas power station. It was not an action involving EDF Energy.”
The supplier said it “supports the right to lawful protest” but added: “The consequences of this illegal activity put lives at risk, caused considerable disruption to the site during its construction, and considerable financial losses.
“It also delayed the completion of the new power station – part of a massive investment in the UK’s energy supply which will provide enough electricity for 1.5m homes. It is important that those considering this kind of action understand that they may face consequences through civil action for the damage, cost and disruption they cause.”