Energy giant EDF today dropped a £5m law suit against 21 climate change protesters that shut down the company’s new West Burton gas-fired power station last October.
Campaigners claimed the climb down as a major victory after a backlash in which hundreds of customers deserted the company and 64,000 people signed an online petition.
After three weeks of campaigning, the No Dash for Gas campaigners say they were approached by EDF’s lawyers offering to withdraw the lawsuit.
The company had claimed £5m damaged from the activists after 16 of them scaled power station smokestacks before abseiling into the flues and living inside them, preventing the scheduled opening of a new chimney.
Commentators had described the damages claim as “a disgraceful attempt to close down peaceful protest” and “vindictive bullying”, while anti-cuts group UK Uncut and Greenpeace warned that it could change the face of protest in Britain.
In a statement EDF said while it “respects people’s right to hold differing viewpoints and to protest lawfully … 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.”
However that’s not yet the end of things for the activists. They face possible jail terms when they are sentenced at Nottingham Magistrates Court for aggravated trespass on Wednesday next Wednesday and in April.