Scores of people around the country are protesting against Drax Plc on the day of its AGM today, with three simultaneous demonstrations in London, Liverpool and York.
Campaigners are highlighting Drax’s involvement in dirty energy, its contributions to climate change and deforestation, and its continued reliance on government subsidies – which should instead be going to support energy conservation and genuinely renewable energy.
In 2016 Drax received £1.5 million a day in ‘renewable energy’ subsidies from the government to burn almost 13 million tonnes of imported wood1 – more than the UK produces every year for all uses. Drax remains among the UK’s largest burners of coal and the world’s largest burner of biomass. over half of which is imported from biodiverse regions in the southern United States. Supplying wood pellets for European biomass power stations is a major cause of forest destruction in these areas, where many species are under threat from habitat fragmentation2.
Since Drax’s acquisition in December 2016 of four gas fired power stations (yet to be built) and Opus Energy3, its portfolio now includes three forms of dirty energy.
Campaigners from across the north gathered outside the AGM to leaflet delegates on their way in, displaying banners reading “End Coal Now” and “Drax the Destroyer” before listening to inspiring speakers including Selby local councillor Andy Hines, Anne Harris from the Coal Action Network and Claire Robertson from Biofuelwatch.
In London, environmental and human rights activists are gathering outside Drax’s two largest investors, Schroders and Invesco, to hand out leaflets to workers explaining why Drax is fuelling catastrophic climate change and destroying biodiversity.
In Liverpool, local activists have unfurled a banner at the entrance to the port, where some of the imported wood pellets burnt at Drax arrive in the UK.
Duncan Law from Biofuelwatch, who is at the London protest, said,
“We are here today to tell Drax’s two largest investors that financing forest destruction is unacceptable and a bad investment decision. Drax relies on government subsidies to stay afloat, receiving almost £1.5 million a day which should instead be going towards energy conservation and genuine renewables such as wind and solar power.”
Anne Harris from the Coal Action Network said:
“If Drax was serious about ‘decarbonising’, it would stop displacing people living near coal mines in Colombia, destroying ecosystems to supply wood and coal, and investing in building new gas power stations. Biomass, gas and coal all produce carbon dioxide, when we need to massively reduce our emissions now.”
Katy Brown, who lives in Liverpool and attended the protest at the port, said,
“We see trains leaving the port every day with ‘sustainable biomass’ written on them. Biomass that relies on imported wood from biodiverse ecosystems is in no way sustainable.”
The protests were organised by a coalition of groups including Biofuelwatch, Coal Action Network, London Mining Network, Fuel Poverty Action, members of Unite and concerned locals in Liverpool and York.