Over the next four days, numerous campaign groups are conducting actions across the country under the banner ‘Stop the Great Fuel Robbery’. The events are being conducted by numerous environmental, anti-cuts and community groups as well as housing organisations, in response to rising energy prices which campaigners suggest means many people now have to choose between ‘heating or eating’.
Activists will be targeting the UK’s six largest energy companies - British Gas (Centrica), EDF, E.On, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE, which they claim set the market to obtain maximum profit margins. Furthermore, the actions will also target government departments, most notably The Department for Energy and Climate Change. The targeting of the public sector is a result of fuel poverty benefits being cut and further privatization of the UK electricity industry (The Dash for Gas) which will, activists claim, result in expensive gas power, which also contributes towards climate change. In addition to energy companies and the public sector, some actions will ‘target’ the public in the form of awareness events to highlight the wider campaign. We are currently aware of the following upcoming actions;
- Today, Thursday 14 February, a Fuel Poverty protest is taking place against E.on, from 12:00 until 14:00 outside E.on Open House, 33 Lister Gate, Nottingham.
- On Friday 15 February there will be a demonstration from 13:00 until 15:00 outside the Scottish Gas Headquarters, Waterfront Avenue, Edinburgh. The event, organised by the Edinburgh Tenants Federation, currently has 57 confirmed attendees. Organisers are claiming that 2,000 people die each year in Scotland as a result of high energy bills, and will likely link the ‘deaths’ to Scottish Gas, with possible ramifications on the company’s reputation. The protest is likely to be theatrical, possibly with a Samba band, and ultimately the protest is being held as part of the group’s campaign to get the council to implement a bulk-buy energy scheme.
- Also on Friday 15 February there will be an assembly from 11:00 until 13:00 outside Wood Green Central Library, High Rd, London, organised by Fuel Poverty Action and Haringey Solidarity Group and supported by various other local groups. So far there are only nine confirmed attendees. The action is most likely to be for awareness purposes and pass without incident.
- On Saturday 16 February there will be an assembly from 11:00 outside The Department for Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, London. Currently this event has 77 confirmed attendees and over 800 more have been invited. The event, which has been organised by Fuel Poverty Action has a vast number of groups supporting it including, but not limited to, Climate Justice Collective, Disabled People Against Cuts, and Frack Off, which slightly increases the likeliness of disturbance. However, the event is most likely to pass peacefully, although attention grabbing tactics and forms of theatrical protest may be implemented by protesters, as is often the case with environmental protests.
- Also on Saturday 16th February, from 13:00 until 18:00 activists will have an information stand outside Lewisham Shopping Centre, London, whereby they will be engaging the public on the issue. So far just four people have confirmed attendance at the event, which being an awareness action, is likely to remain peaceful.
- On Sunday 17 February, there will be a fuel bill assembly from 12:00 until 13:30 at the Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston, Hackney. The action will mainly form a workshop whereby participants will discuss strategies for future campaigning.
Further actions in addition to those detailed above are highly likely. Organisers of the initiative are encouraging local and regional campaign groups to hold fuel bill assemblies across the country, with suggested locations including the offices of energy companies, political parties, politicians, government departments, local councils, and letting agents. Notably, activists have been encouraged to hold assemblies inside offices, which could in turn result in ‘occupy’ tactics being adopted (see article below for further information on recent occupations), which if organised, will be done so by smaller cells of most likely environmental campaigners and will occur without warning. Elsewhere, protest actions are likely to be held in crowded places where the issue will be well publicised, including shopping centres and libraries.