Press release: 10 February 2021

ClientEarth responds: Drax gas mega-plant in doubt

ClientEarth lawyers have welcomed media reports that Drax Power will scrap its plans to build a 3.6GW gas plant in North Yorkshire.

ClientEarth mounted a legal challenge to the Government’s decision to allow the project to go ahead, a process which ended with a Court of Appeal ruling last month.

ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter Jones said:

“Drax scrapping its plans to build what would have been Europe’s largest gas plant would be a massive win for the UK and its net zero goals.

“Over its lifetime, the plant would have risked the UK’s net zero target, and could have locked in 15 years of subsidies or otherwise left the public picking up the tab if it was forced to shut early.

“With the global community looking to the UK for leadership this year, the Government now needs to ensure every single one of its planning decisions are in line with net zero, and to close the yawning gap between its carbon promises and the reality.

“The Court of Appeal confirmed last month that in considering new major energy projects, the Government can refuse permission on climate change grounds.

“The upcoming policy review is the time for the Government to make clear that this kind of project will no longer be approved.

“Drax must also explain how the rest of its business squares with a sustainable net zero future, given the serious concerns about the climate and biodiversity impact of burning huge volumes of wood for biomass energy at Selby.”


Notes to editor
  • November 2018: ClientEarth submitted its initial written objection to Drax Power’s proposed gas plant.
  • July 2019: the Planning Inspectorate recommended to the Secretary of State that consent for the Drax project be refused on climate change grounds.
  • October 2019: the UK Government goes against the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation, granting consent for Drax’s proposed gas power plant.
  • 15 December 2020: the Yorkshire Post reports Drax’s “new focus on “flexible and renewable generation activities in the UK” in decision to divest its gas generation assets.
  • 1 February 2021: Drax announces completion of its gas asset sale, including four CCGT gas power stations, and announces that they are no longer operating any CCGT gas plants.
  • 8 February 2021: the Evening Standard reports that “Drax said the new plant was not guaranteed to go ahead.”
  • 10 February 2021: the Evening Standard reports that Drax CEO Will Gardiner labels the Selby gas plant as a “legacy” project amid speculation the company will scrap its plans.
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.