Blockades, shutdowns, lock-ons, love-ins, tripods and nanas…..Reclaim the Power’s day of action against the fossil fuel industry today (1 June 2015) saw 18 different actions drawing the dots between big energy firms, government ministers, public relations companies, oil arts sponsorship and the fracking industry.
Let’s take a run-down of the day’s events…
We’ve all had the threatening letters from energy companies demanding payment for bills we can’t afford – and today we hit back. Reclaim the Power groups visited RWE Npower’s offices in Leeds and blockaded the front doors. Many households are forced onto pre-payment meters which are more expensive than direct debit accounts.
The coal industry are trying to continue burning fossil fuels by dangling the promise of Carbon-Capture-and-Storage technology. Conference delegates at a World Coal Assocation event found all five entrances to the exclusive Institute of Directors blocked this morning. There no arrests but lots of marigolds.
Cheeky protesters highlighted the continued fossil fuel bias within the Department for Energy and Climate Change by blockading its steps. Rowan Tilly explained, “Against the advice of their own Committee on Climate Change, the government has approved the construction of up to 30 new gas-fired power stations, and intends to go ‘all out’ for shale gas – with up to two thirds of the UK licensed for fracking. This new dash for gas is recklessly at odds with our national and international obligations on climate change and must be resisted, for both the sake of ourselves and future generations.
“We are now finding ourselves at a stage where we don’t know where government ends and corporations begin and unless we act now we will soon find ourselves be locked into infrastructure which will burn carbon for years to come whilst killing off renewable energy, with political decisions ruled by profit and acting in ignorance of the blatant dangers of climate change. We simply can’t afford to let this happen.”
Continuing this theme, Reclaim the Power activists visited the offices of Invesco – the investment management company which owns 26% of Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire. New DECC junior minister Andrea Leadman worked at Invesco for 10 years before taking up her post in government. The revolving doors were literally blocked and banner dropped above the London Wall road.
Public relations firm ‘Media Zoo’ represent chemicals giant Ineos – who have recently pledged £640 million investment in fracking. Eight activists occupied their offices in Imperial Wharf, London carrying a banner banner reading, ‘Fracking is Shit. You can’t polish a turd.’ They used arm tubes lock ons to stay put. Seven people were arrested around lunch time.
Mediazoo’s website boasts extensive experience of dealing with “industrial disputes”, “fatal accidents” and “child labour”. They are consulting Ineos on PR and media strategy. The CEO of Ineos Upstream Gary Haywood said, “I want Ineos to be the biggest player in the shale gas industry.” Mediazoo were responsible for what UNITE described as Ineos’s “campaign of fear” during the dispute at Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland when 1400 workers fought cuts to pay, jobs and pensions.
As well as representing RWE Npower, public relations firm Camargue also spin the work of Horizon Nuclear Energy. 12 protesters targeted the firm’s offices in Soho. Clare Jones said, “The public has a right to be informed about the real dangers of nuclear – from cancer to contamination to climate change. For the cost of building one nuclear power station you could build over 1000 offshore wind turbines.”
Energy UK is the trade body for the Big Six energy companies. They have lobbied the government to introduce the ‘Capacity Market’ into the recent Energy Act (2014) – which uses public money to subsidise new gas power stations. Three people blockaded the entrance, including two in an arm tube lock on. There were two arrests.