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Axe Drax Climate Campaigners Stage Protests

Friday, 14 August 2020

In coordinated action across 10 locations in the North, the AxeDrax campaign held peaceful and creative protests against the trains carrying the clear-felled trees headed for Drax Power Station to be incinerated. These protests included groups from Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion, Save Rimrose Valley, Stockport Climate Action Group, Unison and Biofuel Watch. Actions ranged from banner drops, to puppet shows and socially distanced community outreach. 

Calderdale XR and Youth Strikers took action at three locations:

Hebden Bridge - Youth activists, artists, and climate activists joined together to create a colourful action on the platform to attract the public's attention and in Sowerby Bridge, slow moving traffic was greeted with music and banners to drive home the message that we need to act now to stop climate change and cut down carbon emissions instead of trees.

Activists at Hebden Bridge station, Friday 14 August

Todmorden - protestors momentarily stopped the traffic as the Drax train made its way across the bridge above them.  They argued that their purpose was to ensure that the damage that Drax is doing does not, like the train, pass over anyone's head.  Bob Walley of Todmorden stated "Nobody likes stopping traffic and upsetting people. But this is literally life and death. People are dying because of climate chaos. Burning trees is part of the problem, not the solution. Drax can't be allowed to keep lying to us"

Drax Power Station is the UKs single biggest carbon emitter, releasing 13 million tonnes of CO2 per year [1]. Despite this, in 2019 Drax received £789.5 million in renewable subsidies coming straight from our energy bills [2]. These subsidies could be transferred to genuine renewables by the Secretary of State if there is enough pressure from the public and MPs - pressure that this protest began to build. 

The AxeDrax campaign has 3 demands: 

1. Stop Subsidising Ecocide: The government must remove the £789.5 million in subsidies for Drax Power Station and transfer them to genuine renewables.

2. Leave it in the Ground: Stop Drax building Europe's biggest ever fossil gas power station. 

3. Stop the Lies: End Drax's dangerous greenwashing claims that burning trees for energy is a climate solution.

Hazel McGrath from Calderdale said, "The tracks along which we have been protesting have seen increased flooding because climate change results in more concentrated rainfall.  Scientific consensus is that the rise in global temperature is directly related to carbon emissions.  Forests that would capture carbon are being felled at a far greater rate than they are being replaced whilst the act or burning these forests is releasing carbon into the atmosphere.  We are all paying for this biofuel greenwashing; our taxes go into subsidies whilst our homes and businesses end up under water."

This protest highlighted the impact upon communities that Drax's ecologically destructive behaviour has - both here at home in the North and abroad. The wood pellet production mills in the Southern US cause air, noise and water pollution for local communities [3]. Along the train line in the North of England the train line causes noise and air pollution. 

Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge are all on the frontline of climate change.  The impact of flooding has been huge on homes, businesses and traffic chaos and while Drax continues to make a profit, millions are being spent on flood defences in Calderdale.

These protests are part of an ongoing campaign against Drax Power Station. 

See also:

HebWeb News: Climate campaigners demonstrate against Drax