Statement on the West Burton protestors
Following an offer we received from the protestors’ lawyers to settle the civil case, EDF Energy has been working to agree a compromise agreement acceptable to both parties.
The protestors, who have all pleaded guilty in court to aggravated trespass, have agreed in principle to accept a permanent injunction which prevents them from entering multiple sites operated by EDF Energy. As a result of this, EDF Energy is dropping its claim for civil damages against them and believes that this is a fair and reasonable solution.
Our aim was always to protect a vital infrastructure project - which forms part of a massive investment in the UK’s energy supply - from dangerous and costly disruption. We have held discussions with a wide range of stakeholders and listened carefully to the debate around this issue, including conversations on social media.
EDF Energy respects people’s right to hold differing viewpoints and to protest lawfully. Campaigners have staged peaceful and lawful protests outside some of our power station sites for many years. However, the group of protestors who broke into our West Burton site last year put their lives at risk and forced hundreds of workers off site.
The protestors are right to highlight that the challenge of keeping the lights on in Britain represents one of the most important issues facing the country. We will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and individuals to explain our role in meeting the country’s future energy needs.
In that light, EDF Energy will invite relevant representatives of civil society – including environmental campaigners - to discuss how the company can best address these issues and develop protocols which will guide its response to such demonstrations in future. This will be led by Will Hutton, Chairman of EDF Energy’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel, alongside Panel member, Tamara Ingram. They will also be supported by an independent legal adviser. An advisory report will be presented to the independent Panel and the findings will be published in due course.
EDF Energy’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel was established in 2006, to engage with independent experts from relevant disciplines. The Panel provides a healthy challenge to our executive team and a strong voice for our stakeholders, helping to shape our business strategy.
We share the protestors’ commitment to tackling climate change. That’s why we have committed to reducing the intensity of CO2 emissions from our electricity production by 60% by 2020, and cutting the proportion of CO2 arising from our customers' energy consumption by 15% by 2020.
We are Britain’s largest generator of low carbon electricity and our plans to build four new nuclear reactors could generate enough low carbon electricity for about 40% of Britain’s homes. Last year, our nuclear stations avoided the emission of almost 41 million tonnes of CO2 which would have been produced if the same amount of electricity had been generated by fossil fuels. This is equivalent to removing 60% of all UK passenger cars off the roads.
We also strongly support renewable energy and have outlined plans for further investment in wind farms over the coming years. However, in order to keep the lights on in Britain, a mixture of energy sources is needed to provide reliable low carbon energy.
Will Hutton is Principal of Hertford College, Oxford and is Chair of the Big Innovation Centre at the Work Foundation. Will Hutton is also a former Editor of ‘The Observer’ and one of the UK’s leading commentators on social and political affairs. Tamara Ingram OBE, is Executive Managing Director, Grey Group. Further details of our Stakeholder Advisory Panel can be found here