Climate campaigners protest at Drax AGM

Climate campaigners protested outside Drax’s Annual General Meeting in London yesterday.

The conglomerate of protesters denounced the company’s Selby power station as the UK’s single biggest emitter of CO2.

Their aim was to expose the impacts of biomass, coal and gas burning on the environment. Biofuelwatch, which was part of the protests, said that protesters went on to the government department responsible for the £2.2m in subsidies they said were received daily by Drax.

Back in Yorkshire, a group of local residents gathered outside Drax Power Station with banners and placards with the same messages.

Biofuelwatch said that the Drax power station burns more wood every year than any other plant in the world, and more than the UK produces annually, and 2 million tonnes of coal last year.

As part of their move to biomass, which will see them replacing their coal powered units under the government’s coal phaseout, Drax uses wood pellets from US forests.

However this plan has reportedly been condemned by 92 environmental organisations and 96,000 individuals, with a petition and Open Letter handed to the Secretary of State earlier this month.

Duncan Law from Biofuelwatch said: “Right now, our allies in the southern US are campaigning against what would be the world’s biggest pellet plant, planned by Drax’s supplier Enviva in Mississippi. Enviva’s pellet business drives forest destruction, climate change and social injustice across large areas of the southern US already.

“Drax must be shut down and replaced with genuinely renewable energy from wind, sun and waves, and the UK government needs to stop subsidising this dangerous false solution to climate change.”

Ash Hewitson from Reclaim the Power stated: “Drax wants to build the UK’s largest gas fired power station to date, which will make us more reliant on fracked and imported gas. The projected coal phaseout could be an opportunity for the UK to move beyond burning towards a more decentralised and democratic energy system and culture. Drax is obstructing progress towards this and taking us further from a safer energy future.”

A Drax spokesperson said: “Since converting two thirds of Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, we are delivering carbon savings of more than 80%. This has transformed the business, making Drax the biggest renewable power generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. We play a vital role at the heart of the UK energy system producing flexible power to the grid at the times it is needed most, helping the UK to decarbonise faster than anywhere else in the world, whilst maintaining secure supplies.”