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HSE drops prosecution of Drax

On 23rd February 2023 the HSE dropped its prosecution of Drax Power, in a case due for trial at Leeds Crown Court in June this year. The prosecution concerned allegations relating to employees being exposed to biomass dust at the Company’s power station in North Yorkshire.

At the PTPH in 2022, the Company pleaded not guilty to offences alleged to have occurred between September 2006 and April 2017. The charges were brought under regulation 6(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and s.2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Drax served a defence statement supported by expert evidence challenging the HSE’s allegations; the Company denied having exposed employees to a material and unacceptable risk to their health, safety and welfare and that there was any failure by it to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk created by the work being undertaken.

Following the service by Drax of its defence statement and expert evidence, the HSE reviewed its case, concluding it was unable to establish a causal link between any ill health and the handling of biomass at the site and that, in light of the evidence served on behalf of the Company, there was no reasonable prospect of securing a conviction and therefore there was no public interest in continuing with the prosecution.

Dominic Kay KC represented Drax, instructed and assisted by a team from Eversheds Sutherland led by Paul Verrico, including Sarah Valentine, Charlotte Wood and Claire Watson.

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