19 September 1997
PowerGen settles Kent orimulsion claim
By Tim Relf
A KENT farming family has won its High Court fight for compensation from electricity giant PowerGen.
Dennis and Sallie Clifton served a writ against the company in February 1995, claiming emissions from Richborough Power Station had damaged crops on 324ha (800-acre) Abbey Farm, Minster between 1991 and 1995.
At the time, Richborough was burning orimulsion, a controversial bitumen-based, Venezuelan fuel. The power station is within a few hundred yards of the Cliftons farm.
The hearing lasted 59 days, making it one of the longest ever involving a farmer. During the proceedings, the court heard that many of the Cliftons vegetable crops were left with “black lesions which resembled burn marks”. This reduced yields and left large quantities unsaleable, they claimed.
PowerGen, the countrys second-biggest electricity generator, denied the claims. But the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement last week, just hours before the judge was due to rule.
One condition of the agreement is that neither side can talk about the details. Speculation, however, is that a seven-figure sum could be involved.