|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of United Kingdom and coal.|
E.ON UK describes itself as "one of the UK’s leading integrated power and gas companies – generating and distributing electricity, and retailing power and gas – and are part of the E.ON group, the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company." It generates approximately 10% of the United Kingdom's electricity. The World Coal Institute lists E.ON UK as having 4.9 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation assets in 2005..
On its website, E.ON UK states that a part of its corporate social responsibility program includes "Working towards low carbon energy" with the company stating that it will "produce and deliver energy to our customers, whilst reducing our carbon intensity." It also states on its website that "we recognise the environmental impact of our business. We know that Climate Change is an important issue for society."
Coal Fired Power Stations
On its website E.ON UK states that in 2006 carbon dioxide emissions from its generation plants totaled 27.6 million tonnes.
E.ON UK owns several coal-fired power stations including:
- Ironbridge Power Station is located in Telford, Shropshire. It comprises two units and has an installed capacity of 970 megawatts. As a result of the European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive this power station will be closed.
- Kingsnorth Power Station is located in Rochester, Kent. It comprises four units and has an installed capacity of 1,974 megawatts. As a result of the European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive the four existing units of this power station will be closed. However, in October 2006 E.ON UK announced plans to build two new units at the same site with the aim that they would be commissioned and then the four original station units demolished. A wide range of climate change groups opposed the proposed new coal-fired units. In October 2010, E.ON said that economic conditions were not right for the company to continue pursuing the project. E.ON's decision left just one contender in the competition: Longannet entered by a consortium led by Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power. The government insisted the project will go ahead in spite of the withdrawal of E.ON, although £1bn announced by Chancellor George Osborne is expected to pay for just one demonstrator plant rather than the four industry had hoped for. The validation project is likely to cost £500m to build and £500m to operate, said Professor Stuart Haszeldine, FRSE, Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage and Geology at the University of Edinburgh.
- Ratcliffe Power Station is located in Ratcliife on Soar, Nottingham. It comprises four units and has an installed capacity of 2,000 megawatts. This power station is fitted with a Flue Gas Desulphurisation unit to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions.
Protests against E.ON's coal-fired generation
Oct. 8, 2007: Greenpeace occupation of Kingsnorth Power Plant
On October 8, 2007, 50 Greenpeace UK activists occupied the Kingsnorth Power Station near Kent, England. One team of people shut down the conveyor belts carrying coal into the plant, and then chained themselves to the machinery. Another team scaled the plant's chimney, upon which they painted the phrase "Gordon Bit It." Greenpeace held the action in protests of plans by the plant's owners, E.ON, to build two new coal-fired plants at the site - which would be the first coal-fired power plants built in the UK in 20 years. Police arrested 18 people during the action.
April 1, 2008: Eastside Climate Action blockade of E.ON headquarters in Nottingham
On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, 30 activists with Eastside Climate Action blockaded the front entrance of E.ON's headquarters in Nottingham, England. Two people used U-locks to lock themselves to the front door, while others blockaded the back entrance; other protestors poured green paint on themselves, to simulate E.ON's "greenwashing". The action was in protest of E.ON's plans to build the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant - the first new coal plant in the UK in 50 years. Police made two arrests, and the building was shut down for the day.
November 28, 2008: Activist shuts down Kingsnorth Power Station
In full view of security cameras, a single activist climbed two 10-foot, razor-wired and electrified security fences at E.ON's coal-fired power plant and crashed a huge 500MW turbine, leaving behind a banner that read "no new coal." All power from the plant was down for four hours, which cut the UK's CO2 emissions by an estimated 2 percent. Police are still searching for the activist.
April 14, 2009: 114 arrested for allegedly planning direct action against coal plant in Nottingham, UK
Police carried out what may be the largest preemptive strike on environmental activism in British history. 114 people were arrested for planning a direct action at a coal-fired power station, believed to be E.ON's Ratcliff-on-Soar plant. Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party, said, "confidence in policing of protests like this has just about hit rock bottom. Peaceful protest is a civil liberty we need to be upheld, even more in the context of the lack of government action on climate change. We have tried all the usual channels." The alleged activists were charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
E.ON confirmed that the Ratcliff plant was the intended target. No group claimed responsibility for the alleged protest. Although no details of the proposed action were available, veteran activists suggested that demonstrators may have planned to chain themselves to conveyor belts transporting coal into the power plant. The tactic has been used at both Ratcliffe and the Kingsnorth Power Station, also owned by E.ON UK.
June 21, 2009: 10 activists board coal ship in Kent, England
Ten Greenpeace activists boarded a ship delivering coal to the Kingsnorth Power Station. The group used inflatable speedboats to target the boat as it sailed up the River Medway. All 10 protesters were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit criminal damage and having an unauthorized presence on a ship.
E.ON's Media Managers
E.ON's PR Advisers
In February PR Week reported that "E.ON is calling in PR support as it gears up for a David versus Goliath battle with environmental campaigners over a controversial new power station." PR Week's Clare O'Connor noted that the brief would include crisis communications. The electricity utility's quest for PR support followed documents obtained by Greenpeace UK revealed company's determination to get the government's approval for a new coal-fired power station.
The documents, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Greenpeace reported, included one in which E.ON insisted that John Hutton "has no right to withhold approval" of the proposed new coal plant. "E.on also tells the government not to include carbon capture and storage in their conditions for building the new coal plant. It took the government just six minutes to reply: 'Thanks. I won’t include.” Just like that ... In the same email, E.on admits that carbon capture doesn’t exist (or, in their words, it 'has no current reference for viability at any scale'), exposing the government’s energy policy and E.on's media strategy – based on a faith in the potential of carbon capture technology to deliver 'clean coal' – as hollow."
The following month, PR Week reported that E.ON had hired the PR firm Edelman "as the energy giant looks to develop its nuclear portfolio and counter opposition from green campaigners." E.ON UK's head of PR, Jonathan Smith, told PR Week that "Edelman will offer us support lobbying the Government and political audiences ... It will also carry out an information programme, getting the message across about the urgency to replace generation capacity. We also have plans for new nuclear stations. Edelman will be involved in work for the upcoming white papers."
The World Development Movement's media officer, Kate Blagojevic, commented on Edelman's role that "it's clear that E.ON have called in the big guns and are preparing themselves for a PR battle to win the hearts and minds of the British public. So brace yourselves, in the coming months, you can expect to be inundated with headlines extolling the virtues of: 'Carbon Capture and Storage', 'Clean Coal', 'Energy efficient E.ON'. Claims which are unproven, implausable and in some cases, impossible."
In April 2008, PR Week reported that E.ON had "consolidated its consumer and trade PR activity into one agency with the appointment of The Red Consultancy". PR Week reported that "The Red Consultancy had previously held the consumer PR account, while Target PR handled the brand's B2B activity and Leeds-based Mortimer Chadwick Grey handled part of its consumer work. The Red Consultancy will now handle all aspects of the brand's PR activity." The PR firm's account team will include Ed Staples and Paul Davies "and report into E.ON retail PR manager Nick Sandham."
Accessed July 2012: 
- Tony Cocker
- Don Leiper
- Jeremy Davies
- David Bird
- Maria Antoniou
- Fiona Stark
- Sue Laverne
- Anthony Ainsworth
- Sara Vaughan
Accessed July 2012: 
- Allan Leighton: known internationally for his business career which includes roles as CEO of Asda, non-Executive Chairman of Royal Mail
- Justine Roberts: founder and Chief Executive of influential website Mumsnet
- Paddy Tipping: the former Labour MP and Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee
E.ON UK plc
Westwood Business Park
Tel: +44 (0)24 7642 4000
Fax: +44 (0)24 7642 5432
Articles and Resources
- E.ON UK, "Welcome to E.ON UK", E.ON UK website, accessed June 2008.
- CoalPro, "UK", World Coal Institute website, accessed June 2008.
- E.ON UK, "Corporate Responsibility", E.ON UK website, accessed July 2008.
- E.ON UK, "Environment", E.ON UK website, accessed July 2008.
- E.ON UK, "What we are doing in our Generation activities", E.ON UK website, accessed July 2008.
- Sylvia Pfeifer and Fiona Harvey, "Competition for carbon capture project to go ahead" Financial Times, October 20, 2010.
- United Kingdom Quality Ash Association, "Power Station Locations and Capacities", undated but after 2006, accessed June 2008.
- Mott MacDonald, "UK Coal Production Outlook: 2004-16", Department of Trade and Industry website, Final Report March 2004. See Appendix E: UK Coal Power Stations, page E-1 at the end of the report.
- Protestors Raid Coal Power Plant, BBC News, October 8, 2007.
- Greenpeace Shuts Down Coal Fired Power Station, Greenpeace UK website, October 8, 2007.
- "Climate Protest in City Centre", Nottingham Evening Post, April 1, 2008.
- "Eastside Climate Action Blockade E-ON Workers As Part of Fossil Fools Day", UK Indymedia, April 1, 2008.
- "No new coal - the calling card of the 'green Banksy' who breached fortress Kingsnorth," The Guardian, December 11, 2008.
- Juliette Jowit and Matthew Taylor, "Mass arrests over power station protest raise civil liberties concerns," The Guardian, April 14, 2009.
- "Protesters leave coal cargo ship," BBC News, June 22, 2009.
- "E.ON seeks help for green battle", PR Week, February 14, 2008.
- bex, "Coal giant dictates government climate policy", Greenpeace UK, January 31, 2008.
- Clare O'Connor, "E.ON turns to Edelman as nuclear debate rages", PR Week, March 13, 2008.
- Kate Blagojevic, "Climate campaigners vs Edelman: a PR battle of David and Goliath proportions", Blogging Kingsnorth, February 14, 2008.
- Gemma O'Reilly, "E.ON retains The Red Consultancy for PR support", PR Week (UK), April 2, 2008.
- E.ON UK Board, organizational web page, accessed July 10, 2012.
- E.ON UK Customer Council, organizational web page, accessed July 10, 2012.
Related SourceWatch articles
- E.ON UK and Nuclear Power
- Advanced Power Technology Forum
- British Coal Utilisation Research Association
- Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
- UK Coal
- Coal Authority (UK)
- Department of Trade and Industry (UK)
- Scottish Coal
- British Geological Survey
- European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive
- United Kingdom and coal
- Very low sulphur coal
- Peter Hickson - former board member
- Former PowerGen people Nick Mabey, Paul Myners, Roberto Quarta
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