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Hundreds at Portland power station demo
CAMPAIGNERS from across the country joined the latest protest march against a new power station being built on Portland.
Around 250 people lined part of the Causeway in a bid to bring attention to their battle against a biofuel plant being built at Balaclava Bay.
Police officers stopped the traffic on the Portland Beach Road to let the people cross as they headed to the sailing academy before holding a rally outside the gates of Portland Port.
Saturday’s march was delayed by 45 minutes to wait for a coach-load of climate change protesters from London who eventually joined the march at Portland Castle.
Local protesters and others from Bristol, Wales and Sheffield carried buckets of sand from the castle to drop it outside the gates of the port.
Organiser Andrew Butler, from the campaign group No Oil Palm Energy (NOPE), drew a line in the sand as he started his speech: “We are drawing a line. This is the battleground for all across Britain.
“We have capitalists rubbing their hands because if they build here on Portland they are going to make a lot of money building these all over the UK.
“We will stop them here and they will go no further.”
W4B Renewable Energy, the company behind the plant, say it is going to be a ‘green’ energy source as it will not burn food-grade palm oil.
And local businessmen have backed the plant on the grounds that it will provide jobs for the island.
The marchers carried placards including one that read ‘Don’t Pollute Portland’ while others wore gas masks as passing drivers beeped in support.
Another banner held up at Portland Port read ‘Portland betrayed and now no longer part of the Jurassic Coast.’ A group of boys started their own chant of ‘We don’t want no palm oil plant, come and join us sing our chant’ and also ‘W4B, out out out.’ Ian Lander, fellow organiser from Biofuel Watch, warned the local families of the pollution he believes would be caused.
He said: “The plant will burn 40,000 tonnes of biodiesel.
“That’s the equivalent of 40,000 cars driving around the streets of Portland all day every day.”
Ros Kayes, former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, said the new power plant was ‘clearly opposed by the local community.’ She said: “Today we’ve walked past one of the most beautiful harbours in Britain and the site of the 2012 Olympic sailing events.
“Why on Earth are they going to be allowed to build a biofuel plant here?”
Richard Denton-White, from Portland Town Council, attacked Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s decision to back the plant and also blamed the previous Labour government for supplying grants to biofuel schemes.
He said: “Now I want to ask the coalition ‘are you going to be the greenest government in history?’”
* W4B managing director Richard Gudgeon has previously stated that environmental fears are unfounded.
He said: “We’re absolutely committed to sourcing palm stearin – the industrial by-product of palm oil – that’s not grown on land that’s being deforested, affecting orangutans or displacing local villagers.
“We share the same concerns with the local Friends of the Earth and we’re trying to be transparent.
“Because we’re generating electricity we have to, by law, provide Ofgen with a sustainability report every year.
“This will be publicly available and has to show every single delivery of oil, where it’s from and where it was sourced with sustainability criteria.”
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