Kingsnorth protestor verdict is ‘disastrous’
23 October 2008
Andrew Furlong, IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) Policy Director, said in a recent interview that the court decision will have serious repercussions and make foreign investors think again before investing in the UK: “The court ruling is disastrous. Any foreign company looking to construct a plant will take a wide berth of the UK. This court ruling provides a precedent that says ‘It’s okay to break into industrial facilities and vandalise them.’
In October last year, five activists scaled the power station’s 200m chimney using abseiling equipment and painted the word ‘Gordon’, referring to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in an effort to convince the government to cancel the redevelopment of the coal-powered site.
One activist remained on the ground to liaise between the climbers and the police. Greenpeace was accused of causing £30,000 worth of criminal damage.
Greenpeace’s defence against the criminal damage charge rested on its assertion that by acting to close the power station on Kingsnorth, Kent they were preventing the harm that coal causes to ecosystems, people and property.
Eon, the German-based utility which operates the dual-fuel station, didn’t close the plant as reported in the popular press but burned oil instead of coal.
The jury found all six activists not-guilty, marking the first case where preventing property damage from climate change has been used as part of a 'lawful excuse' defence in UK Crown Court.
Eon UK spokesperson Jonathan Smith agreed with Furlong’s concerns over the court decision. He said: “We’re worried the decision is a license to break into power stations. We’re concerned about the decision’s repercussions for safety and security of energy supply.”
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