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EDF sues Brighton power plant activist
French power giant EDF Energy is suing an activist for millions of pounds.
Alistair Cannell, 23, of Bevendean, was part of a 21-strong group who broke into an EDF Energy power plant to protest against plans to build up to 40 new gas power stations.
The activists, who formed part of the No Dash for Gas campaign group, scaled towers and abseiled inside chimney stacks as part of a week-long protest in October last year.
Each protestor was convicted of aggravated trespass at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this month, with seventeen due to be sentenced on March 20 and the remaining four on April 2.
Now the energy firm, who recorded UK profits of £1.7 billion this year, has filed a civil damages claim of up to £5 million against the protestors.
A statement from EDF Energy said it supported the right to lawful protests, but the group had “put lives at risk” and caused “considerable financial losses.”
It continued: “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.”
Mr Cannell said: “This lawsuit is EDF’s attempt to bully us and suppress protest, but it’s massively backfired.
“Thousands of people are supporting us and there’s even a protest planned to shut down EDF’s flagship ‘Let’s Talk Power’ conference on May 1.
“Building new gas-fired power stations will force us to turn to more and more extreme energy methods, such as fracking, that will not only destroy our climate but threaten our air, water, and soil directly through their pollution.
“We need to stand up to these companies threatening our existence and start living within our means.”
Punished for activism
A petition to stop EDF Energy proceeding with legal action has secured more than 30,000 signatures within a week of starting, whilst a spokesman from Greenpeace claimed “everyone else loses if EDF Energy win.”
The spokesman added: “This is an attempt to deter protest and dissent by shifting the punishment of activism to the civil courts, where the lack of a jury or legal aid for activists, and the bottomless pockets of companies, make severe penalties more certain than they would be in a crown court.
“This further concentrates power in corporate hands, and removes a key defensive tool from the hands of vulnerable people and ecosystems.”
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