By Martin Wainwright / The Guardian

Around 20 climate change protesters have seriously disrupted operations at one of the UK’s new generation of gas-fired power stations at West Burton in Nottinghamshire.

Police have made five arrests but overnight eleven protesters from the campaign group No Dash for Gas successfully scaled the middle of the plant’s 91m (300ft) metal chimneys – the plant’s water cooling towers – and another six have occupied a second one which was not yet in use, securing themselves on ledges.

One of the group tweeted exuberantly with accompanying pictures: “Guess where we woke up this morning! Dawn sun shining on other chimney where friends are perched on the ledge.”

Speaking from the group’s makeshift but sophisticated camp slung on the central chimney shortly before 1pm, one of them said: “we are settling in nicely. At the moment some of us are setting up a solar panel and there’s a group fixing our portable loo. We’ve got a portable ledge lowered a short way down the flue with plenty of room for people to sleep on. EDF [the plant’s operator] have assured us that the chimney had been shut down but we’re still a but worried about gases being around. But the plan is to stay up here with some of us in the flue to stop the furnace starting again.”

Ben Healey of No Dash For Gas said that the middle of the plant’s three cooling towers had been working but had now shut down, with steam no longer pouring from its brim. He said: “There are nine activists up there and they have started abseiling down into the flue to prevent the furnaces being relit. That means we are in for the long haul.

“The six people on the other chimney, which is not yet fully built, have barricaded themselves in place and will be very difficult to dislodge.”

The protesters said they had spent a busy night climbing the chimney and hauling up their equipment and food supplies to last at least a week.

The plant’s owners and operators EDF confirmed that the middle tower had been closed down.

No Dash for Gas said that the action was aimed at stopping operations at the £600m power station that is one of a cluster of plants built around the site of the deserted medieval village of West Burton in the valley of the River Trent.

The group said: “West Burton power station is being targeted because it’s one of the first in a new generation of highly polluting gas plants planned for the UK. The coalition government recently announced that it intends to give the green light to as many as 20 new gas plants – a move that would crash Britain’s carbon targets, contribute to the climate crisis and push up bills.”

Nottinghamshire police said that access had been gained to the site by protesters at about 1.20am. A police spokesman said: “Around 10 are thought to have climbed the water towers and have secured themselves to restrict their removal. Searches are ongoing to find a number of other people who are also believed to have gained access to the site.”

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