Posts Tagged ‘Drax’

Axe the Draxosaurus – 2016

Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Axe the Draxosaurus – On Wedesday 20th April 2016 environmental activists protested outside the AGM of Drax Plc at Grocer’s Hall next to the Bank of England in the heart of the City of London. Drax power station near Selby in Yorkshire used to be the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station, but since 2012 has become the world’s biggest wood-burning plant, and the company Drax Plc has become the second largest producer of wood pellets in the world

Axe the Draxosaurus

Drax power station now emits more CO2 than any other plant in the UK, and it does so with the aid of a huge subsidy from our UK electricity bills, almost £1 billion in 2021.

Axe the Draxosaurus

It get subsidised by the UK Government as part of the plan to decarbonise electricity generation despite the evidence from scientists around the world that the burning of forest wood for energy increases carbon emissions and is incompatible with the attempt to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Axe the Draxosaurus

The subsidies that Drax receives increase our electricity bills and should be going to expand truly renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar energy. Instead they are paying Drax to pollute and pay out large dividends to their shareholders.

Axe the Draxosaurus

Sourcing the wood to burn at Drax – and for them to sell to other wood-burning plants is also a social and environmental disaster. Much of the wood comes from Drax’s pellet mills using large mmonoculture pine plantations in Southeastern USA, large sterile forest areas with little or no wildlife which have been expanded greatly in area, in part by the total clearance of areas of ancient forest.

Also in the USA, Drax buys pellets from Enviva, the world’s largest pellet producer which has come under criticism for its clearcut felling of US coastal hardwood forests.

Drax has also been criticised by environmentalists for its clear cutting of ancient forests in Canada, and its Portuguese supplier of pellets has been found to have sourced trees from nature reserves. And logging for wood pellets for Drax is also destroying ancient forests in Estonia and Latvia.

The amount of wood burned at Drax is huge – 6.4 million tonnes in 2022 – and will have involved the cutting down of twice that mass of trees. It is more than the entire UK wood production – but only supplies less than one hundredth of our energy needs.

Drax is now attempting to claim further subsidies for its BECCS (Bioenergy With Carbon Capture And Storage) project which seems very unlikely to be able to capture any significant amount of its huge annual CO2 output. It would obviously be far better simply to stop burning wood and turn to truly renewable power sources.

The protest in 2016 was organised by Biofuelwatch on whose web site you can find more a detailed briefing about Drax and why it is vital to end the subsidies for its polluting and environmentally destructive activities.

You can find information on the Axe Drax page about the trial of the #DRAX2 arrested after paint was sprayed on the government department supporting the subisdies to Drax – it begins at Southwark Crown Court on April 22nd 2024. And on August 8-13th 2024 Reclaim the Power is holding a mass protest camp for climate justice “targeting Drax – the biggest emitter in the UK, the world’s biggest burner of trees and a key driver of environmental racism.”

Drax AGM Biomass opposition


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Time to Act on Climate Change – 2015

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

Time to Act on Climate Change – it was indeed time to act on climate change when over 20,000 of us marched through the streets on Saturday 7th March 2015, but though almost all the scientists and others who had studied their reports were convinced the nine years since then have been largely wasted years.

Time to Act on Climate Change
Tina-Louise Rothery from ‘Frack Free Nanashire’ and others from Lancashire sitting down on the Strand

There have been some minor changes both in the UK and across the world, but nothing like enough to reverse the growing climate chaos – and our current government seems determined to stay on course for extinction, giving approval to new fossil fuel schemes.

Time to Act on Climate Change

Not that the current opposition, who may well become our government at the next general election seem any better. Instead of taking a firm line to oppose these climate-wrecking schemes and promising to reverse the decisions when they come to power they have said they will allow them to proceed. They have promised not to approve more, but then they have already abandoned most of the promises they had made earlier, including those related to climate change.

Time to Act on Climate Change

In 2021 Labour announced a £28 billion annual green spending plan creating new jobs in battery manufacturing, hydrogen power, offshore wind, tree planting, flood defences and home insulation in the first term when they came to power. They abandoned this pledge in Feb 2024, cutting by half or more its green investment plan.

Time to Act on Climate Change

Back in 2015 the climate march and rally demanded real action without delay with a total divestment from fossil fuels, an end to fracking and damaging bio-fuel projects and for a 100% renewable energy future which would create a million new jobs. The Labour policy would have been a watered down version of this, coming ten years at least too late, but now hardly coming at all.

The organisers of the march through London had refused to pay for any policing of the event, saying it was not needed and it proceeded peacefully largely in their absence. There were large groups of police protecting some businesses, particularly the Strand McDonalds, where some marchers stopped to protest.

A large group of the marchers, including a block from Frack Free Lancashire led by the Nanas, then sat down on the road and halted the march for around 15 minutes before getting up and continuing.

A black block of several hundred behind a banner ‘TIME TO ACT ON CAPITALISM’ made a lot of noise going down Whitehall, and then rushed off down King Charles Street rather than continue to the rally. I went with them for a few yards and then decided to go back and join the many thousands on the main march which ended with a rally on College Green, close to the Houses of Parliament.

Here is the list I gave of the speakers in the account I wrote in 2015, and there are pictures of most of them on My London Diary:

Among the speakers were John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, Kat Hobbs from CAAT, Bert Wander of Avaaz, Pete the Temp, Fatima-Zahara Ibrahim of the Youth Climate Coalition, Pete Deane from Biofuelwatch, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth, FBU leader Matt Wrack, Rumana Hashem an evironmental activist from Bangladesh, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Tina-Louise Rothery who spoke toegther with a Frack Free Lancashire crowd, Dennis Fernando, UAF, Chris Baugh, PCS, John McDonnell, MP, and comedian Francesca Martinez. A woman from Paris (whose name I missed) invited us all to go there to protest at the climate talks there this December, and a 12 year-old read an excellent speech she had prepared.

There was then a performance by a large choir, Voices United, and the event concluded with John Stewart of HACAN who came on stage together with some polar bears from a protest earlier in the day at Heathrow who received prolonged applause.

Time to Act on Climate Change

At the end of the rally we were invited to take part in two other protests continuing the day’s theme and I went with ‘Art Not Oil’ proceeding with their Viking longship to protest on the steps of Tate Britain against the gallery accepting sponsorship to greenwash climate wrecker BP. Partly I chose this rather than the planned direct actions around Parliament as I thought it would get less press coverage, but it was also on my way to Vauxhall station where I could catch a train home.

Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change


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Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October began as just another month, but the world changed with the Hamas attack across the Gaza border with Israel on October 7th. I missed the first emergency protests against the Israeli response but the rest of my year was dominated by protests against the killing of civilians and children in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
‘Stop Starmer’ Meeting Warns Us All. Camden London, 7 Oct 2023.
A day before the Labour conference people meet in Keir Starmer’s constituency to warn everyone how dangerous a Starmer-led government would be. Those present included many former Labour Party members who say he has no principles and list almost 30 pledges he has so far reneged on, including green jobs, NHS outsourcing, Lords reform, free school meals, workers rights, oil contracts, PR, childcare. Paula Peters of DPAC speaking.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Cancel the Debt of the Global South. Bank, London, 12 Oct 2023.
65 bags for Climate Debt against 1 for debt repayments. While the World Bank/IMF meet in Marrakesh campaigners at the Bank of England from Debt for Climate, War on Want and others join in worldwide protests for the cancellation of debts of the Global South. They are owed Climate debt for damage caused by fossil fuels 65 times as much as their debt repayments.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Barclays Told Drop Polluter Drax. Canary Wharf, London. 19 Oct 2023.
Axe Drax. XR and other campaigners at Barclays Canary Wharf HQ demand they end support for Drax, the world’s biggest burner of trees which now gets around £2m a day of UK climate subsidies intended for renewable energy for its highly polluting power station, and is seeking extra subsidies for an unproven and unworkable carbon capture climate scam. Drax burns wood pellets mainly made by clear felling mature trees in the USA.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Stand with the Palestinian Resistance! Oxford St, London. 21 Oct 2023.
Members of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and the Revolutionary Communist Group support Palestinians resisting the Zionist state of Israel which for many years has oppressed Palestinians. They protested on Oxford Street outside British businesses, banks and institutions including Marks & Spencer which have long supported the Israeli apartheid state.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
National March for Palestine – Stop the War on Gaza. London. 21 Oct 2023.
Well over 100,000 march calling for a ceasefire and an end to the violence, for a lifting of Israel’s siege and for full humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza immediately. They called for a just peace in the Middle East and freedom for Palestine. I was too tired after standing watching the march go past for around two and a half hours that I went home rather than photograph the rally.
Peter Marshall
UFFC Annual Rally & Procession 2023. London, 28th October 2023.
The annual remembrance procession by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) marching from Trafalgar Square to Downing St for a rally with speakers from the families whose relatives were killed by police and in penal, mental health and immigration detention. They call for justice and proper investigations of the officers involved suspected of crimes.
Peter Marshall
National March for Gaza – Ceasefire Now, London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Many thousands march through London called for an immediate ceasefire as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall
More Pictures – Gaza Ceasefire Now! London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire Now! Protest At Waterloo Station, London. 28 Oct 2023.
Several hundred protesters sat down in Waterloo Station concourse in a protest calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall

More from my Facebook albums for 2023 tomorrow.


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AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing: Today, 19th October, is the International Day of Action Against Big Biomass (IDoA) calling for an end to climate-wrecking tree burning in power stations, and I hope to be attending a protest in London at Barclay’s Bank in Canary Wharf at noon calling for an end of the £billions in subsidies given to the world’s biggest tree burner, Drax, for burning trees and polluting communities. In 2016 I photographed a protest against Drax and another against providers of high cost (and high profit) housing for students.


AxeDrax protest against Biomass & Coal – Westminster

AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing

Back on Wednesday 19th Oct 2016 protesters came to the newly formed Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to urge the government to end the green subsidies to Drax as scientific research had make it clear that producing electricity from Biofuels is harmful to the climate, forests, biodiversity and people.

AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing

Biofuel Watch and London Biomassive, both part of the Axe Drax campaign had brought with them posters, banners and a cooling tower and were accompanied by the Draxosaurus dinosaur.

AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing

They demanded the government end the £600million a year subsidy Drax gets for its polluting activities and spend the money on measures such as building insulation to cut demand for electricity and to support the use of real low-carbon renewable electricity generation.

AxeDrax Wood Burning & Student Housing

Drax is an old and inefficient power generator, built for coal, still used in two of its six boilers in 2016, though in April 2023 they announced using coal had come to an end. The four boilers converted to wood pellet use waste 60% of the energy created in waste heat to the atmosphere and into the cooling water taken from and discharged into the nearby river Ouse. Without the huge annual subsidies it gets from our electricity bills it would not be viable. It should be closed as soon as possible and its workers trained for new green jobs which the huge subsidies currently spent on keeping this highly polluting facility open could provide.

As well as being generously awarded for adding excessive amounts of carbon and thus increasing global temperatures, Drax also creates large amounts of highly dangerous particulates, releasing over 400 tons a year into the environment in the UK. And Drax also creates environmental havoc in the areas which supply its wood – and until 2023, coal.

Much of the wood comes from destroying forests in the Southeast of the United States, and Drax also supplies wood to be burnt in other countries. It has mills to turn freshly cut trees into wood pellets in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Planting the monoculture pine forests needed to supply these has been at the expense of the clear cut felling of older diverse forests and replacing them with sterile plantations with little undergrowth and wildlife.

Drax also buys wood pellets from the world’s largest pellet producer Enviva which cuts down large areas of highly diverse coastal hardwood forests in the US with an incredible loss of bio-diversity. Similar environment degradation and destruction of habitats is taking place in other countries around the world where Drax sources pellets. Their transportation to Drax also produces large amounts of carbon dioxide.

The pellet plants which produce wood largely from whole trees and complete felling of large forest areas to be burnt at Drax also generate huge amounts of air pollution both at Drax in Yorkshire and Drax at the US pellet plants were Drax has had to pay large fines for this. Most of these plants are in deprived, majority-Black communities.

At the protest at the BEIS we heard a from a Colombian woman about the calamitous effect of open-cast coal-mining at the giant open-pit Cerrejón coal mine in La Guajira, northern Colombia. jointly owned by Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata.

Drax may now have ended burning coal and imports ended in 2020, but following the closure of UK mines all of the coal burnt there came from abroad, including from Colombia.

The Cerrejón mine is in Wayúu indigenous territory and the local people were not consulted when mining began there 30 years ago. Their land was simply seized and communities forcibly displaced in violation of their constitutional land rights and there was no proper compensation. Pollution and dust from the coal mine continues to contaminate the air and water supplies badly affecting traditional lifestyles; soil pollution leads to failed crops, and fishing areas have been contaminated.

Drax also had a carbon capture and storage project for its biomass plants, but this is only based on very limited trials and seems highly unlikely to ever have a significant effect, not least because the necessary infrastructure for the removal and storage of any carbon dioxide captured seems unlikely ever to be available. And by the time both the removal and disposal could possibly be implemented on any scale there will be absolutely no economic justification for retaining expensive sources of power such as wood burning rather than very much cheaper renewable generation.

AxeDrax protest against Biomass & Coal


Student Rent Strike protest – Holborn

I went on from the BEIS protest to Russell Square where students were meeting to discuss student housing. Once halls of residence were largely an at-cost service provided by universities, but have now become big business for private developers.

After some speeches they marched behind the #RENTSTRIKE banner to briefly occupy the nearby office of Unite Students, a FTSE 250 company housing around 50,000 students in the UK.

The event was a part of a nationwide series of protests taking place as investors and developers were discussing the rich profits to be made from students at the MIPIM conference, the world’s largest real estate market event in Cannes.

Many of the large new blocks of student housing have flats with rents larger than the entire student loan, higher than all but students from very wealthy families can afford, and are largely for letting to rich overseas students studying here.

More pictures at Student Rent Strike protest.


NHS, Shaker, Drax, Gurkhas, Herbalists & Bikes

Monday, April 24th, 2023

Wednesday 24th April 2013 was a busy day for protests in Westminster. And there was one in the City.


Protest the Privatisation of NHS – Old Palace Yard

NHS, Shaker, Drax, Gurkhas, Herbalists & Bikes

The House of Lords was debating NHS regulations which imposed full competitive tendering on the NHS, a key part in the escalating backdoor privatisation of the NHS.

Unite had set up a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ game show hosted by people wearing ‘David Cameron’ and ‘Jeremy Hunt’ masks and listing the likely costs of various procedures due to the tendering system. They feared “that the coalition’s NHS policies, including a multi billion pound funding squeeze coupled with a massive reorganisation, will destroy the 65 year old health service, paving the way for a new marketised system where paying up to £10,000 for maternity costs or £13,450 for a new hip is the norm.”

NHS, Shaker, Drax, Gurkhas, Herbalists & Bikes

Unite said that already more than £20 billion of health costs go to private companies, who take their decisions on the basis of profit rather than the interests of patients. The Lords were debating a motion for the annulment of the regulations on the grounds that Parliament had been assured “that NHS commissioners would be free to commission services in the way they consider in the best interests of NHS patients“.

Protest the Privatisation of NHS


Bring Shaker Aamer Home – Parliament Square

NHS, Shaker, Drax, Gurkhas, Herbalists & Bikes

Following a petition with 117,387 signatures to bring Shaker Aamer home from Guantanamo, a debate had been held that morning by MPs in Westminster Hall, where most of the 17 MPs who spoke called for his release, including Shaker’s own MP, the Conservative MP for Battersea, Jane Ellison, who also came out to speak with the protesters.

NHS, Shaker, Drax, Gurkhas, Herbalists & Bikes

Unfortunately such debates, although they do increase pressure on the government to take action have no actual consequences. But perhaps it did help to persuade the government that it had to ignore the embarrassment of British agents at being complicit in his torture by the US and make clear to the US government he should at last be released after being held for 12 years, long after he had been cleared of any involvement in terrorism. As I noted, “The facts about torture are now largely public and totally indefensible and it is time for justice to be done.”

Bring Shaker Aamer Home


Drax Biomass Threat to our Planet – Princes St, CityDrax AGM, wpp

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaking at the protest

I had to take the tube to the City to attend a protest outside Gocer’s Hall where the AGM of Drax, the huge coal-burning power station near Selby in Yorkshire was being held. Drax was planning to convert half its capacity to bio-mass and become the largest biomass-burning power station in the world, using 1.5 times the total UK wood production per year.

The wood pellets would come mainly from devastating clear-cutting of highly diverse forests in North America, and although re-grown will eventually remove the same amount of carbon this will take a hundred years or more – during which time the carbon Drax emits – roughly 50% greater than burning coal – will be contributing to disastrous global warming.

Drax already has a disastrous impact in South America were land is being grabbed from traditional communities for open cast coal mining, usually with complete disregard for their human and civil rights, cleared of its biodiverse forests and diverted from food production – often in places where food is desperately needed. Conversion to wood-burning at Drax will result in even more environmental and social destruction.

The incentive to change to wood-burning is that under current government policies Drax will receive huge government subsidies from funds intended to promote renewable energy, diverting funds from schemes for energy production and conservation that actually will help to combat climate change.

Drax Biomass Threat to our Planet


Gurkhas Call for equal treatment – Old Palace Yard

I returned to Westminster, where Several hundred Gurkha pensioners and supporters were holding a rally on the 198th anniversary of the first recruitment of Gurkhas into the British Army to deliver a petition to David Cameron asking for equal treatment to other British Army ex-soldiers.

British Army Gurkhas who retired before 1997 were granted the right to settle in the UK in 2009, but their pension remains only a fifth of that of other British soldiers, and is impossible to live on in the UK, being based on the cost of living in Nepal.

Gurkhas Call for equal treatment


UK herbalists Want Regulations – Old Palace Yard

Also in Old Palace Yard were UK herbalists, both traditional and Chinese, protesting against the failure of the government to bring in the statutory regulations they had promised to do by 2012.

Under EU regulations from 2004, traditional remedies then in use could continue to be provided until 2011, but after that had to be covered by national policies to regulate their safety and effectiveness. Although the government had promised to set this up, it has so far failed to do so, and they are now unable to prescribe many commonly used and effective common herbal remedies.

UK herbalists Want Regulations


Get Britain Cycling Report Launch – Parliament Square

Finally, in Parliament Square, Christ Boardman, a gold medal cylist in the Barcelona Olympics posed with MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to launch their report ‘Get Britain Cycling.’

This calls for more to be spent on supporting cycling and that it should be considered in all planning decisions. They want more segregated cycle lanes and for the 30mp urban speed limit to by reduced to 20mph. Children should be taught to ride a bike at school and the government should produce and annually report on a cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan. Cycling has enormous advantages both individually and for us all in better health and reducing pollution with reduced health spending.

Get Britain Cycling Report Launch


XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019 – three years ago Extinction Rebellion were, like today, protesting on the streets of London, with several key locations in London blocked for most of the week. Some joined the Axe Drax protesting over the polluting wood-burning powerstation that gets environmental subsidies for massive pollution. And the families of victims of knife crimes held a rally at Downing St and later blocking Westminster Bridge calling for urgent action against knife crime.


XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues – Waterloo Bridge

With several of London’s key routes still blocked by Extinction Rebellion there were no buses in the central area, so I walked across Waterloo Bridge on my way from the station to the City. I could of course had used the tube, but XR had turned the bridge into a ‘Garden Bridge’ and I wanted to see how their protest there was progressing so went earlier to allow myself plenty of time.

The bridge over the River Thames was still closed and had plenty of plants on it – so XR had, despite a couple of hundred arrests, achieved something that Boris Johnson had failed to manage with his backing the ludicrous and expensive Garden Bridge scheme as Mayor. New protesters were arriving to keep the bridge green as I walked across, enjoying the atmosphere with no traffic pollution, only people, plants and bikes.

The only vehicle on the bridge was a lorry brought by XR to stop the flow of traffic and to act as a stage for performances. There were people on top and locked on underneath to frustrate any attempt by police to remove it. It was a sunny morning, warm for the time of year and people were enjoying themselves, some dancing to drums or listening to poets, story tellers and singers, some attending workshops, others just laying back and enjoying the sun.

Their aim was to keep the bridge closed to vehicles until the government took necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, telling tell people the truth about the disaster we are facing, halting biodiversity loss, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. They want a programme led by a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice. The government failed to act, other than put increasing pressure on the police to remove the gardeners who held the bridge for over a week.

XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


Drax wood burning must end – Grocers Hall, City

Campaigners were picketing the Drax AGM in the City of London next to the Bank of England demanding an end to burning wood at Drax power station, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter.

In 2018 Drax got a huge subsidy of £789 million from a levy on our electricity bills because their highly polluting wood-burning qualifies them under a measure intended to combat climate change, not contribute to it. The wood they burn, largely from US forests which are being destroyed for it, contains carbon safely locked away, which they put back into the atmosphere that the trees removed it from. Drax – which was also planning to become the largest gas powered generating station in the UK, put 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018.

Drax wood burning must end


XR around Parliament Square

I took the tube to Westminster where Extinction Rebellion were still blocking the streets around Parliament Square two days after they closed them to traffic.

More protesters were arriving to join the blockade, and the theatrical ‘Red Rebel’ group of protesters was walking around the area. I took a few pictures before walking up Victoria St to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

XR around Parliament Square


Drax Protest at BEIS – Westminster

The Axe-Drax protesters had also come from the City to continue their protest outside BEIS demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution. Drax burns more wood each year than the UK produces, mainly from environmentally disastrous clear-felling of US forests. Drax also burns coal from opencast mining, again with huge environmental damage, disrupting some communities and lead to human rights abuses, particularly in Colombia.

Drax’s planned gas-fuelled power plant, 2.7 times larger than the existing largest gas-fired plant was planned to come into operation in 2025 and probably intended to get most of its gas from UK fracking or new gas fields in the UK and Shetlands. Campaigners say that we can only meet the desperate need to cut our emissions enough to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees if we keep the gas in the ground under land and sea – and that our longer-term aim needs to be to lower the CO2 levels. The campaigners were joined by a few more from Extinction Rebellion.

Drax Protest at BEIS


Knife crime campaigners Operation Shutdown – Westminster

Finally I joined a large group of campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones who were holding a rally at Downing St calling for urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

They called for stiffer penalities for knife and gun crime, an end to cuts to local services including youth work and theie restoration to pre-austerity levels, as well as more money to get more police on the streets. They want adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability for recently announced public health approach to knife crime.

At the end of the Downing Street rally they marched with two wreaths the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented the wreaths to a police officer and hold a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists, before continuing onto Westminster Bridge which they sat down on to hold a further rally.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown


More pictures and text on these stories on My London Diary:

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


XR, Drax and Knives

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion‘s occupation of Central London was in its third day on Wednesday 17th April bringing traffic in the area to a standstill. And as there were no buses through the middle of London and those in the area around only moving at snail’s pace through near gridlock, the only way to move around was on foot or by tube. I chose to walk from Waterloo to Grocer’s Hall although the Waterloo and City line would have got me there in a fraction of the time so I could walk through XR’s ‘Garden Bridge’ still in place on Waterloo Bridge.

There were workshops and events taking place on the bridge, and only bicycles and people walking could cross. And although there was a strong police presence, while I was there they were simply standing around and watching, although I was told by the protesters there had been arrests earlier in the day, and there were people locked on below the lorry which was being used as a stage to make this more difficult to move.

Axe Drax protesters against Drax, a huge power station in Yorkshire, were as usual protesting outside the Drax AGM taking place in Grocer’s Hall in the City of London against both the incredible output of greenhouse gases it produces and the environmental damage both from the coal it burns, imported from open-cast mines which are destroying the environment and communities abroad and the wood, largely from destroying American forests by environmentally disastrous clear-felling. Drax burns more wood than the total UK production each year, and in 2018 this produced over 13 million tonnes of CO2. But nonsensical rules on environmental subsidies means that in 2018 Drax got £789 million in subsidies taken from surcharges in our electricity bills for this massive climate changing pollution. And Drax was planning to increase its pollution by building the largest gas powered generating station in the UK.

I took the tube from Bank to go back to Westminster where XR were still blocking Parliament Square and the roads around, with activities going on in and around the square and tents filling much of Broad Sanctuary.

The Axe Drax protesters had moved from the Draz AGM and were holding a protest at the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution which make Drax and its huge pollution viable. These subsidies should be used as they were intended to promote genuinely renewable low-pollution energy energy sources such as solar, geothermal, wind and wave power rather than, as at Drax, increasing global heating. A few from XR had come along to support them.

Finally in a completely unconnected protest I joined the campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of “mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones” supported by other campaigners, who had come to Downing Street calling for the community to unite and demanded more urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

It would be hard not to feel their pain, but to demand stiffer penalties for knife and gun crime is not the answer, as we know this has not worked and simply results in the criminalisation of more in the community. But they also call for other measures some of which would certainly help in cutting these killings, mainly of teenagers and young males.


They want really determined and coordinated putting into action of the recently announced public health approach to knife crime. This has to include an end to cuts to local services including youth work and their restoration to pre-austerity levels, more adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability.

After the speeches the protesters marched the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented two wreaths to the police and held a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists.

They then moved on to Westminster Bridge where they sat down for another lengthy rally with more speeches by relatives of those who have been killed.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


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BEIS told to Axe Drax

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute

I arrived some time after the start of this protest by Biofuel Watch outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having been at the Royal Courts of Justice for the XR Lawyers declaration of Rebellion, but was fortunately in time to hear some of the main speakers, including Mayer Hillman who has been writing about environment issues for many years – and whose work has inspired some government actions such as energy standards for housing and 20mph speed limits to reduce road deaths. But his warnings on the need for urgent climate action over many years have so far failed to produce any significant actions.

You can listen to his video “The Last and Most Important Advice I Will Ever Give” on YouTube, which puts the information on Climate Change simply and directly. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases causing global warming come from burning fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – which are produced by around 100 companies, and we have to stop using fossil fuels. The other main source is deforestation, with the destruction of forests for agricultural land and the burning of wood.

Drax is a major UK source of carbon dioxide, and claims huge ‘environmental subsidies’ for doing so, despite their huge contribution to global warming. Switching to wood burning has made Drax a worse polluter but the UK government gives it £2 million a day for ‘renewable’ subsidies out of our electricity bills for doing so – and Drax has plans for expansion to also become the UK’s largest gas-fired power station.

As Hillman says, if life on the planet is to continue we need urgently to stop both fossil fuel use and deforestation, but our current politicians have failed to take effective action. We need to vote them out and vote in others who will do so.

He urges people to join the global rebellion led by XR and for young people to be inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and join the youth climate strike protests.

More at Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS.

End rewarding Drax for pollution

Friday, August 9th, 2019

I’ve never felt bad about having a bonfire in the garden. We generate a lot of small branches from various shrubs and trees that have to be regularly cut back, and it’s material that mostly won’t compost. And although we have several large compost bins, we’ve found from experience that they don’t get hot enough to destroy a few really tough and troublesome weeds, So these often get put on the bonfire too, though we could pay for the council to collect them as garden waste.

All this carbon release is of short-term carbon, mostly this year’s carbon, and there is no net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by our gardening.

And of course the bonfire produces carbon dioxide, but firstly it is only a fraction of the carbon dioxide which has been turned into wood and leaf in our garden, with the rest remaining locked in as our bushes and trees grow bushier and taller, or being eaten (and thus released) as fruit and vegetables. More too gets back in to the atmosphere from the green waste that does go into our compost bins.

Of course there are other pollutants from our very occasional garden bonfires, including particulates and doubtless toxic chemicals. But I am fairly sure that the amounts of these are relatively small and will add little to those already in our air here from the nearby roads, motorways and Heathrow.

But burning wood to produce electricity at Drax is a quite different matter. One obvious difference is that of scale: Last year Drax burnt 7.2 million tonnes of wood pellets, equivalent to at least twice that amount of green wood, and more than the UK’s total annual wood production, and released 13.02 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere (in addition to another  4.36 million tonnes from coal and other fossil fuels.)

The wood burnt at Drax is ‘old’, having grown over many years, and even with the most sustainable forest planting to replace it will take more than 50 years. The majority of it comes as pellets from the USA, mostly produced from hardwood from the clear-cutting of biodiverse forest ecosystems, and the major producer, Enviva has been subject to heavy criticism both for its destruction of these swamp and wetland forests, and for locating its highly polluting pellet plants in areas of social deprivation already exposed to high levels of industrial pollution.

Drax’s carbon-producing wood burning is only financially viable because it gets huge subsidies. In 2018 these amounted to £789.2 million, This money comes from our energy bills which carry a surcharge, intended for promoting renewable electricity. It should not be used to promote highly polluting and essentially non-renewable wood burning. The subsidies are greater than the company’s annual profits and without them wood-burning would not be viable.

Drax also gets subsidies from the government for burning coal, though on a rather smaller scale, but also impossible to justify. For 2019/20 this is  £22 million, and similar subsidies are expected until 2025. It is also expected to be subsidised for burning gas, and wants to greatly expand its generation from gas.

These huge subsidies to Drax for its contribution to global warming come at at time when our government has slashed subsidies for truly renewable energy production from onshore wind and solar power as well as those for energy efficiency and conservation.

More about the protest outside Drax’s AGM in the City of London, and later outside the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution in two posts on My London Diary:
Drax wood burning must end
Drax Protest at BEIS


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