11 Sep 2008

New Zealander cleared of protest charges in Britain

4:18 pm on 11 September 2008

Six Greenpeace activists, including a New Zealander, have been cleared of criminal damage charges laid following a power station protest in the United Kingdom.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court acquitted the group, whose actions forced the temporary closure of the operation.

The Greenpeace activists scaled a chimney at the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent in October last year, and painted Prime Minister Gordon Brown's name down the side.

They argued their action was legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.

The court heard Kingsnorth emits 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a day.

The New Zealander involved, Emily Hall, says the acquittal is a boost for their UK campaign against coal.

"They've got eight coal-fired power stations waiting to get planning approval, its just insanity. So I think what it sets a precedent for is the way that people are going to look at energy policies now so that's brilliant."

The decision could encourage other environmental groups to take up the same defence in future.