CND General Secretary Kate Hudson on the victory over EDF
Fantastic news today that EDF has dropped its £5 million damages claim against climate change campaigners No Dash for Gas who shut down EDF’s newly-constructed West Burton gas-fired power station for a week. This victory has been achieved thanks to a massive backlash from hundreds of customers who have deserted the company and 64,000 people who signed an online petition posted by one of the activists’ parents.
EDF has serious form on its punitive attempts to curtail the right to protest. Only last year we had a brush with them ourselves, as they tried to prevent CND and others in Stop New Nuclear and other networks from protesting at Hinkley Point, site of the proposed new nuclear power station. In the High Court of Justice, EDF Energy failed to win an injunction to stop the protest. The judge, Mr Justice Floyd refused to grant the injunction application against the four anti-nuclear groups describing it as ‘inappropriate’.
Of course that was a victory, as is today’s result. But in both cases the victories are only partial. Last year, EDF not only attempted to prevent the protest, it also sought the eviction of individual protestors occupying farm land near to the proposed site. The eviction was upheld by the judge, who granted a possession order against the defendants camping on the land.
Today, the No Dash for Gas campaigners still face possible jail terms when they are sentenced for aggravated trespass on Wednesday next week and in April. The successful action in their support has put an end to some of them potentially losing their homes, and all of them being forced to pay a percentage of their earnings to EDF until a personal debt of £238,000 each was paid off, or be declared bankrupt. But that is not the end of the story for them. As well as the possible jail terms, EDF still insists on a restrictive injunction preventing the 21 activists from entering EDF power stations in the future.
There are clear lessons from these experiences:
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