Reclaim the Power, the direct action network that brought thousands to mass action camps in Balcombe and Blackpool, will take mass action against the fossil fuel industry from a camp near Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire, on 29th May – 1st June.
Last year, Reclaim the Power activists converged in Blackpool to support local communities opposing fracking in the area, with 13 nationwide actions originating from the camp including protestors superglueing themselves to DEFRA’s headquarters, occupying Cuadrilla’s Blackpool office, blockading iGas’ London headquarters, and shutting down a fracking site near Hull. In 2013, thousands descended on Balcombe in support of the local anti-fracking protectors’ camp, to shut down Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site for six days, and collectively take part in a national day of high profile direct action which saw Green Party MP Caroline Lucas being arrested.
This year, hundreds are expected to attend the mass action camp near Didcot Power Station to take direct action against fossil fuels, whilst proposing sustainable alternatives such as renewable energy. The camp will include workshops, creative direct action training and a national day of action on Monday 1st June to coincide with global action against the corruption of corporate power on the UN climate talks in Paris this December.
Hannah Martin from Reclaim the Power said:
‘The camp comes at a crucial time. We now have a new Tory government who are totally in bed with the fossil fuel industry – subsidising their friends and relatives in the fracking industry and committing to another round of gas-fired power stations. They also plan to build infrastructure that will lock us into burning carbon for years to come while killing off renewable technology. Like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, people on the ground will take action to stop them in their tracks. Until corporations are forced to loosen their stranglehold, political decisions will continue to be ruled by profit and ignore the growing dangers of climate change. The UN negotiations are doomed to failure as long as this remains the case. We want a safe, sustainable and more equal society. On June 1st we’ll show that we aren’t content to just sit back and wait for the governments to act.’
The camp is part of an international weekend of action against the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on the Paris UN Climate talks. Didcot is owned by RWE Npower, one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies who control the UK’s energy supply. They are one of Europe’s biggest fossil fuel polluters. They own a huge open cast coal mine in Germany, they lobby the UK Governement to extend the life of dirty power stations and yet they’ve been chosen to help represent the UK government in EU decision-making on reducing carbon emissions.
Kerry Fenton, of Reclaim the Power said:
‘NPower’s relentless pursuit of fossil fuels will bring climate chaos, push more people into fuel poverty, and keep power and wealth in the hands of the 1%. Not only have Npower helped push people into fuel poverty, they are now making people reliant on them for hand-outs. This feels like a slap in the face for people who have had to choose between heating and eating.’
As a decision looms over the future of Didcot’s gas-fired power-station, people all over the world are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels. This along with insulation and other ways of saving energy could provide good jobs, warmer homes and lower bills. Research shows that Britain could be carbon neutral by 2030 using current technology. In Didcot, when a fire shut down the power station, it was wind power that kept the lights on. Community groups local to Didcot are building their own energy future through solar, wind and hydro projects that they control.
· In 2014, the coal-fired Didcot A plant was demolished after becoming unprofitable due to EU anti-pollution legislation (the Large Combustion Plant Directive, LCPD/Industrial Emissions Directive) . This legislation should be ensuring the phasing out of coal and dirty old power plants, but aggressive lobbying is weakening the directive , delaying compliance dates and keeping coal in the mix [3, 4]. The UK government is currently breaking the LCPD at Aberthaw , demonstrating a lack of commitment, as well as planning new coal-fired power stations, legitimised with the promise of CCS . Consequently, coal’s share of electricity generation rose from 30% to 39% in 2012, with GHG emissions from the UK energy supply sector increasing by almost 6% as a result. 
· The gas-fired plant Didcot B is planned to continue operations as part of the government’s ‘dash for gas’ , and would be a destination for the burning of highly controversial fracked shale gas if government plans to go ‘all out for shale’ go ahead. The IPCC has warned of the dangers of relying on gas as a climate change solution , maintaining that most remaining fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change – including 80% of coal reserves and 50% of gas .
· Last year, as a fire raged at Didcot B, wind power kept the lights on, providing its greatest ever share of UK electricity of 24% . Research shows that the UK can reach net zero carbon by 2030 using currently available technology  and that switching to renewable energy is the most feasible solution to avoid catastrophic climate change .