Starting 6.10am, about 20 activists from Extinction Rebellion Scotland and Glasgow Calls Out Polluters blocked the entrance to the SSE gas power station in Peterhead, preventing vehicle access to the site, with four activists locked-on to a green-painted washing machine and two red gas canisters.
The group have a banner saying ‘Clean Gas is a Dirty Lie’ and have hung green clothes on a washing line, which include slogans like ‘COP26: Stop the Greenwash’ and ‘Climate Inaction Kills’.
‘Greenwashing’ is when a company pays to advertise themselves as friends of the environment, while continuing to cause ecological destruction.
Extinction Rebellion says the UK Government has taken money from SSE to sponsor the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November, while the company runs Scotland’s most polluting power station. The campaigners added that this is part of a series of Extinction Rebellion non-violent direct actions calling out “greenwashing” ahead of the G7 conference in Cornwall on June 10.
Cathel Hutchison, from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, said: “By sponsoring COP26 in Glasgow, SSE want you to think they are leading the charge into a renewable future. They are havering! SSE are not fit to be given a platform at COP26. That’s why we support our friends at XR Scotland to call out SSE as the climate wreckers they are.”
The activists are also calling for a ‘Just Transition’ away from a fossil fuel-based economy that does not abandon those who would be most affected by that shift.
Stuart Bretherton (23), support worker and XR Scotland activist, said: “Despite the UK Government’s rhetoric on new green jobs, companies like SSE continue to exploit cheap overseas labour. The Government need to ramp up the pressure on companies like SSE to end fossil fuel extraction and deliver a just transition for the sake of the local workforce.”
Later, a choir of singers is expected join the protest, performing tunes such as 'This Planet’s All We Got' and 'I’m Gonna Sing for This World’.
The campaigners add their action has been organised with Covid-19 safety precautions in mind. Participants are wearing face masks, social distancing when possible, and have taken tests or been vaccinated in advance.
SSE said that there was no impact on energy generation at the site at the current time, and no risk to security of supply.
In a statement, the company said: “As the UK’s leading generator of renewable energy, climate action is at the core of SSE’s business. We’ve set clear carbon reduction targets, aligned with the Paris Agreement and verified by the Science Based Target initiative.
"As Scotland’s only major thermal power station, Peterhead Power Station provides critical flexibility to the electricity system, supporting intermittent renewable generation and maintaining security of supply.
"We’re currently developing plans for a new decarbonised power station at Peterhead, using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to remove CO2 from its emissions.
"This project could play a major role in supporting wider industrial decarbonisation in Scotland, helping to ensure a just transition for workers and communities.”