The group of 21 environmental campaigners was being sued by EDF Energy for £5 million after they occupied two chimneys to shut down West Burton gas-fired power station for a week during October 2012. These brave activists risked their lives, scaling up the towers of the power station as a statement against the government’s plans to commission twenty new gas-fired power stations around the UK.
Spurred by the urgency of climate change, fuel poverty and a lack of investment in renewable energy, the protesters felt ‘voiceless in a ‘democratic system’ in which big energy companies are directly influencing government committees writing policy on these issues.
Supporters of the ‘No Dash for Gas’ activists, including members of the Alliance for Jobs and Climate, created a stand alone website #EDF*off, promoted via social media, to encourage customers to switch from EDF and the #big6 to small, green energy providers as a result of the civil action. “The civil lawsuit represents just 10 hours’ profit for EDF, yet could result in protesters losing their homes and being saddled with lifelong debts,” it claims. “It’s a tactic to deter more people from taking urgently needed action on climate change.”
The case has created a huge storm on social media and in the mainstream press as customers have pledged to switch in their droves. The parents of one of the campaigners started a change.org petition against the civil action, which attracted more than 63,000 signatures, including those of Naomi Klein, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins and Mark Ruffalo.
This example of huge public pressure led EDF Energy to drop the lawsuit on the 15th March, a crucial victory for the climate movement and the right to protest in the UK. Unfortunately some of the ‘No Dash for Gas’ protestors are still facing a criminal suit for trespassing on EDF property, which could see climate activists being sent to prison for their beliefs.
The AJC will continue to follow the case up to sentencing and promote #EDF*off as a means of switching your energy supplier and dragging the UK out of the climate catastrophe we are buried in.
Some ways you can help:
1) If you’re an EDF customer, consider switching www.edfoff.org
3) Save the date 1st May 2013 for a protest at EDF’s flagship Energy Conference