Power station protesters guilty

A group of 20 climate change activists who planned to shut down the UK's second largest power station were convicted today of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass.

The group were among more than 100 people arrested when police raided the Iona School in Sneinton, Nottingham, on the morning of Easter Monday, April 13,last year.



The protesters planned to trespass at the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire and shut it down for a week, a trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard.



They argued that their invasion of the power station was necessary, but the prosecution said it was not and was "more fun" than more democratic means of protest.



Today the jury found all 20 protesters, who are from across the country, guilty of the charge, police confirmed.



They will be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.





At the start of the trial, prosecutor Felicity Gerry told the jury the activists planned to climb up into the chimneys at the power station, abseil inside them and stay there.



But she asked: "Is it really necessary to close down a power station when there are so many other democratic ways in which the message could be put across?



"Or did they do what they wanted to do because it was a great deal more fun, or because they did not have tickets to Glastonbury?"



She said that when police raided Iona School they found "extensive equipment for a large-scale operation", including food to last a week, climbing gear, sleeping bags, roll mats and ear and eye protection.



Officers also found a pre-written press release, entitled "Climate activists shut down Britain's second biggest power station", as well as a document prepared for workers at the power station.



Miss Gerry said the group had admitted the "well-organised, well-equipped" plan to shut down the power station, but would argue it was a necessary step to get their point across.



"It's the prosecutions case that the actions of these defendants were unreasonable and unnecessary and therefore criminal," she said.



But in an opening address to the jury, defence counsel Edward Rees QC said court figures from the European Union Environment Agency showed Ratcliffe-on-Soar, run by E.ON, produced 9,030,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2007, rising to 9,900,000 tonnes in 2008.



"This case, if anything, is about getting real," he said. "The rather hard facts you will hear about the situation that they believe we have got ourselves into.



"Equally, there will be no dispute that this was an organised plan to close down production of that elderly carbon-producing plant for a week."



But he said the plan was no "jolly", adding: "This was a serious attempt to stop this particular power station, the second largest in the country, to stop it producing in that week 150,000 tonnes of carbon."



The defence case also involved climate scientist James Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute, who told the court the only way to stabilise the climate was to phase out carbon emissions.



The 20 activists convicted were:



David Barkshire, 44, of Rampton Road, Sheffield; Bradley Day, 23, of Spring Terrace, Swansea; Sarah Shoraka, 33, of Fairholt Road, London; Paul Kahawatte, 25, of Teynham Road, Whitstable, Kent; Emma Sheppard, 29, of Hamilton Road, Manchester; Ben Julian, 34, of Groombridge Road, London; Jesse Harris, 24, of Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds; Spencer Cooke, 42, of Nottingham Road, Belper; Chris Kitchen, 32, of Dean Street, Brightlingsea, Colchester, Essex; Ben Stewart, 36, of Alkham Road, London; Olaf Bayer, 35, of Kent Road, Southampton; Martin Shaw, 46, of Campbell Road, Oxford; Phillip Murray, 25, of St Stephen's Road, Canterbury, Kent; Anna Rudd, 31, of Cliff Mount, Leeds; Jacqueline Sheedy 45, of Foulden Road, London; Daniel Glass, 27, of Willowbank Street, Glasgow; Jonathan Leighton, 21, also of Willowbank Street; Clare Whitney, 24, of Catherine Street, Cambridge; Lisa Kamphausen, 26, of Highfield Crescent, Southampton; and Adam Waymouth, 26, of Meadow Court, Whiteparish, Salisbury, Wilts.



The 14 men and six women were found guilty by unanimous verdict at Nottingham Crown Court today, Nottinghamshire Police said.



Superintendent Adrian Pearson, who led the investigation, said: "Nottinghamshire Police, like every other police force in the country, is committed to facilitating peaceful protest.



"However, today's verdict clearly shows that these individuals were determined to commit offences that would result in them not only trespassing on private land, but also damaging property and potentially endangering the lives of others.



"These actions would have had a major impact on people living not only in Nottinghamshire, but across the East Midlands.



"Nottinghamshire Police acted swiftly to successfully disrupt their plans in what was a massive operation for the force, costing around £300,000.



"However, if these people had been successful, the cost would have been much higher, not only to the police, but also in terms of disruption to the public and damage to the power station."

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