Supply & Demand: Press Release

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**For immediate release** Friday 8th February 2019

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Anti-Frackers Target British Gas and SSE

Anti-fracking network Reclaim the Power announces two nationwide days of direct actions targeting the fracking supply chain, and new plans for gas-fired power stations. After 6 years of fighting fracking company Cuadrilla, the anti-fracking network is also targeting big gas – starting with British Gas & SSE.

The actions named “SUPPLY & DEMAND” takes place 22nd-23rd February, and targets both the ‘supply’ chain for fracked gas – targeting fracking financiers Centrica & HSBC, and the ‘demand’ for new gas-fired power stations planned by large energy companies such as Drax and SSE [1]. It is clear that these power stations are unnecessary to meet electricity generation needs and will lock the UK into carbon emissions for decades to come, blowing the UK’s carbon targets [2].

Public demonstrations have been announced so far for Windsor (British Gas and Centrica HQ), Bristol (SSE offices), Cambridge and Leeds (HSBC bank branches). Other groups are planning unannounced actions in smaller ‘affinity groups’.

Ash Hewitson, member of Reclaim the Power, said,

For six years, alongside many others,, we have successfully fought fracking companies, like Cuadrilla, who are polluting local communities and ignoring the force of democratic opinion against them. At the same time, anyone with eyes can see that the UK does not need the fleet of new gas plants being built by big energy companies like SSE; these will locking us into fossil fuel dependency and climate breakdown, whilst giving us energy bills we can’t afford.

Big Six energy companies like British Gas are funding Cuadrilla and others

There has been sustained nationwide opposition to fracking and recent earthquakes have led to repeated suspension of operations at the industry’s flagship site at Preston New Road [3]. Under pressure from campaigners, the government has refused to relax regulations around seismicity [4]. In the face of this, financiers like HSBC, Centrica and their subsidiary British Gas are under increasing pressure to drop their support for the industry.

Robert Noyes from Fuel Poverty Action, who are working with Reclaim the Power in targeting British Gas, added:

As we come to the end of one of the coldest months of the year, millions of families around the UK are forced to choose between heating and eating, as energy bills continue to rise. [ ] Last year, while British Gas upped their prices by 5.5%, their owners Centrica pumped $16Mn into fracking operations. It is clear – fracking will not bring down the bills. We urgently need clean, affordable and publicly-owned energy in warm, well-insulated homes, an immediate end to fracking, and a just transition away from fossil gas that puts workers in polluting industries at the centre of the conversation.

After seven years of protesting fracking alongside many other groups, Reclaim the Power are also focusing on newly planned gas power plants. SUPPLY & DEMAND intends to highlight the role of gas companies in pushing a new round of gas infrastructure including. In particular, the days of action will target SSE, who are planning to build new gas-fired power stations in Lincolnshire, Abernedd and West Yorkshire.

Ash Hewitson continued:

Plans for new gas plants to be built will not provide secure jobs like a thriving renewable sector does, it will not bring down our energy bills, and it will lock us into a fossil fuel future we simply cannot entertain. It is neither morally tenable, financially prudent, nor socially responsible – and must be opposed.

The campaign comes amid wider international opposition to gas infrastructure. Last month, French and Spanish regulators rejected the first stage of the MidCat pipeline in Catalonia [5].

Notes to the editor:

  1. Companies like Drax power station in North Yorkshire are trying to convert their old coal-fired units into gas-powered units, which would create a huge surge in gas demand and jeopardise the UK’s climate targets. Other ‘Big Six’ companies such as SSE, Scottish Power, are all planning large new gas-fired power stations. 15 large gas projects with a capacity of 22GW are vying to be built.
  2. A recent report by Sandbag and WWF UK finds that if all current gas development in planning was to go ahead it could lock the UK into emissions for the next 40 years at levels way above our international commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. It also indicated that power demand can be met without the construction of the new gas power stations.

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