Drax investors rebel over pay and political donations

Drax has received a bloody nose from investors, who vented their anger at executive pay and political donations at the energy firm’s annual meeting.

A total of 19% of votes were cast against the firm’s remuneration report on Wednesday as shareholders took umbrage at chief executive Will Gardiner’s £1.9 million pay packet for 2018, which was up from £790,000.

But the biggest rebellion came when 42% of shareholders voted against granting the board authority to change rules governing donations to political organisations in the European Union.

Investors were expressing their opposition to a resolution giving Drax the ability to raise the threshold for political donations from £200,000 to £300,000.

Drax operates the largest biomass-fuelled power station in Europe, in North Yorkshire, and the firm receives green energy subsidies from the Government.

The firm said ahead of the AGM that as part of “explaining” its business to MPs, it met with politicians and political parties in 2018.

Drax sponsored an evening reception for the 1922 Committee, held at Westminster, hosted receptions at the party conferences of both the Labour and the Conservative parties and attended the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party Conferences.

After the AGM, Drax said that it is “not the policy of the group to make donations to any political party, nor do we provide financial support to further the aims of any political group or party”.

It added: “As part of our approach to stakeholder engagement, we believe that it is in the best interests of the company to listen and participate in public debate and opinion-forming on matters which affect the company’s business.

“We will continue to engage with shareholders, to help formulate our approach to such engagement going forward, and explain why the board considers the resolution to be in the best interests of the company and our shareholders.”

Enviromental campaigners from Biofuelwatch also held protest against biomass, coal and gas energy outside the AGM at Grocers’ Hall, London.