York & North Yorkshire

Protest over Drax power station expansion plans

Axe Drax protest in London Image copyright Biofuelwatch
Image caption Axe Drax campaigners gathered outside the Department for Energy to protest

Environmental campaigners have protested about plans to expand a North Yorkshire power station.

On Monday, the government approved four new gas-fired turbines at Drax near Selby, despite a ruling from its planning inspectorate.

Drax is the largest biomass-fuelled power station in Europe and gets green energy subsidies from the government.

The Axe Drax protesters made speeches at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London.

A small number then marched with drums, whistles and banners to Drax's offices on Montague Street.

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Drax switched from coal in 2013 and currently receives green energy subsidies for burning biomass.

But protesters from Biofuelwatch, Extinction Rebellion and communities affected by the power station said the government must "scrap" the £2.1m in subsidies the power station gets each day, and must also "refuse any subsidies towards Drax's coal and gas burning".

Image copyright Biofuelwatch
Image caption Campaigners say the government should scrap the £2.1m subsidies Drax power station receives each day

Mark Robinson, from Biofuelwatch, said the expansion plans for Drax were a "disaster for the climate".

He said the government was "keeping Drax burning all these awful things, coal and biomass, and now it's been given permission to build the UK's biggest gas power station".

"It will lock us into dirty energy production for two decades at least, at the very time we need to be drawing down carbon emissions," he said.

"We cannot afford to be opening any more fossil fuel capacity."

Image caption Drax has four generating units running on biomass and two on coal - as well as 12 cooling towers and an 850ft (259m) chimney

A Drax spokesperson said "flexible and reliable power generation" from biomass and gas was "vital" in the UK's transition to a net zero carbon economy.

"Climate change is the biggest challenge we all face," they said.

"Building new, more efficient gas power stations will help the UK meet its climate objectives whilst ensuring homes and businesses have the power they need at a price they can afford."

Image copyright Jonathan Brady/PA
Image caption Environmental protesters campaigned outside Drax's AGM in London in April

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