Drax AGM met by protests and disruption across UK

Apr 25, 2024

Drax’s AGM took place under a cloud of scandal and public outrage. Shareholders and board members were greeted by disruption and theatrical demonstration, including from TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, calling for an end to Drax’s destruction of the living planet. Axe Drax members stormed the stage, stood up and shouted over the chair of the event. This was followed by a choir singing a rendition of “Hit the road Drax”. Four shareholders were denied access as Drax suspected they would disrupt the event. Chris Packham joined the disruption, confronting the CEO of Drax about why he did not reply to a request for an interview.​

Drax Power Station is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and world’s biggest tree burner [1]. Despite this, Drax receives hundreds of millions of pounds in green energy subsidies every year, at the expense of forests, communities and our planet. In the last year Drax made record profits of £1.2bn, whilst receiving nearly £2m in subsidies per day [2]. Campaigners argue that this money should be spent on genuine renewable energy and climate action, not funding dirty tree burning energy. 

A recent BBC investigation found that Drax has continued sourcing from primary, rare and old-growth forests in British Columbia; following the 2022 investigation by BBC Panorama on Drax’s logging of primary and old-growth forests [3,4]. Drax has been repeatedly accused of driving environmental racism in the Southern US, with low income, black and brown communities suffering severe and ongoing health issues linked to their proximity to Drax’s pellet production sites [5]. 

In January, the UK Government launched a consultation on extending subsidies for burning wood, suggesting giving up to £2.5 billion yearly in subsidies to Drax and Lynemouth (the only two generators eligible), with no clear end date [6]. 

There has been strong opposition to the Government’s proposals for new wood-burning subsidies from NGOs, MPs, scientists and the general public. Campaigners argue that if these subsidies are approved, the UK could be locked into many years of tree burning, at huge cost to forests, wildlife, communities and the climate [7,8,9].


Our living world is being burned alive, and Drax is fueling the fire. Drax’s operations are destroying the precious and irreplaceable habitats of many endangered species. In a global biodiversity crisis you cannot justify felling and transporting wood from some of the planets most precious natural resources. It’s a disgrace that Drax is receiving huge subsidies meant for genuine renewables, it is past time to stop funding Drax’s destruction.

Chris Packham, presenter and naturalist

We cannot continue to allow Drax to keep polluting communities, burning biodiverse forests, and raking in billions from the public. It’s an outrage that our Government is considering handing billions more to this dirty tree burning scam. Drax’s operations come at the cost of our bills, communities health and vital forests around the world. We need real solutions to the climate crisis, a just transition and investment in genuine renewables, not greenwashed corporate scams.

Merry Dickinson, 26, Axe Drax

This is the year we must start the transition at Drax, close down this ancient power station, furlough and retrain workers, and pay reparations to the communities severely harmed by Drax’s operations here and overseas. We took a stand today because business as usual is destroying the living world, and it is time to get in its way. Drax must fall, and it’s time we start building a world for people and planet, not profit of a few.

Joe Irving, 23, Axe Drax

Notes for Editors

Axe Drax is a network that actively opposes Drax through disruptive direct action. 

Stop Burning Trees is a coalition made up of grassroots groups in Yorkshire and the North, working to disrupt Drax’s greenwash and towards a just transition.

[1] Drax is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter. The power station emitted over 12 million tonnes of CO2 in 2022: https://ember-climate.org/insights/research/drax-co2-emissions-biomass/ 

[2] Drax Annual Report for 2023: https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Drax_AR23_Interactive.pdf 

[3] 2024 BBC Investigation: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-68381160  

[4] BBC Panorama: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001cw6z  

[5] Environmental Racism: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2022/09/26/drax-accused-environmental-racism-further-pollution-claims-against-wood-pellet-mills-us/ 

[6] Government consultation on whether to grant new subsidies to wood-burning power stations when their current subsidies end in 2027. The consultation closed on the 29th of February 2024: Transitional support mechanism for large-scale biomass electricity generators – GOV.UK

[7] More than 50 UK and international campaign groups – including Greenpeace, the RSPB and Friends of the Earth – signed letters sent to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero last week, calling on the Government not to grant new subsidies for burning trees. Government urged to end subsidies as Drax accused of burning old forest wood | The Independent 

[8] 30 MPs have signed a cross-party letter requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to discuss the Government’s proposals for new subsidies for wood burning in power stations: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/drax-power-plant-burning-rare-forest-wood-despite-6bn-subsidies-m2qwf9c88 

[9] Over 165 scientists from universities around the world have signed a letter opposing Government proposals for new biomass subsidies to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ): cutcarbonnotforests.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/ccnf-scientist-consultation-letter-signed-27Feb2024.pdf