Image taken by Peter Brabham

Climate change campaign group ‘Reclaim the Power’ have blockaded Welsh coal-fired power station, Aberthaw, in protest of the record number of local air pollution deaths reported in the area.

To prevent vehicles from entering and exiting the power station, campaigners created a blockade with tripods and banners which read “Climate Change has a Death Toll” and “Fossil Fuels – Time to Quit” – the centrepiece being a symbolic giant ashtray.

Aberthaw power station is undoubtedly the dirtiest power station in the EU, having recently been accused of emitting more than double the legal amount of toxic nitrogen oxides for the last seven years. This is estimated to kill approximately 400 people a year in the Cardiff, South Wales and Bristol areas – as well as contributing to the ongoing problem of climate change. The UK Government recently lost a European Court of Justice ruling which found Aberthaw in breach of European air quality laws.

The blockade was set up yesterday, precisely a year after the historic climate deal in Paris was signed. The protest comes as the government holds its consultation on the planned phase-out of unabated coal by 2025, a target many feel is far too slow to meet climate goals before it is too late.

Sarah Joliffe from campaign group Reclaim the Power, said “Exactly a year on from the historic climate agreement in Paris, and the UK government is still undermining its own commitments by subsidising fossil fuels instead of keeping them in the ground. Climate change touches all of us – whether it’s the effect on our farmers, flooding in our cities or the insurance on our homes – and it’s already killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world. We must act quickly to protect our communities, our economy and our shared environment. We need decisive action to shut down these dirty power stations and invest in clean, secure energy systems that benefit us all. Anything less is a failure from our government to act in the best interest of the country. Please consider this blockade our submission to your consultation.”

Grace Wild from Reclaim the Power in Cardiff, added “The toxic fumes from the power station are killing 400 people a year, and still the government is failing to act. Our community deserves air they can breathe. Instead of supporting clean energy, the government is choosing to waste public money on dangerous, outdated power stations like Aberthaw. These power stations need to be closed, and resources put into developing the growing renewables economy in the area. Aberthaw is kept alive – despite breaking the rules – on the myth of supporting the Welsh economy. But it’s our communities that are dying from air pollution, and our farming, tourism and coastal towns that will be devastated by climate change. If the government wanted to support the welsh economy, they should be supporting a thriving, jobs rich renewables sector.”

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