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Drax chief’s pay packet jumped almost 70% to £5.4m in 2022

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The chief executive of the power station giant Drax, Britain’s biggest single source of carbon emissions, has seen his pay rocket almost 70% to more than £5m after a year when high electricity prices profits sent profits soaring.Will Gardiner, who has led the power generator since 2018, received a pay package of £5.4m for 2022, up from £3.2m for the previous year.

Gardiner’s package included a 10% increase in his salary to £631,000, a £966,000 bonus and £3.6m under a long-term incentive plan.

The total renumeration of the Drax finance chief, Andy Skelton, rose from £2m in 2021 to £3m in 2022.The bumper payday is likely to cause anger from campaigners arguing energy executives should not receive large bonuses during the energy crisis as households struggle to pay bills.Last month Drax, which owns the eponymous plant in North Yorkshire, posted an 84% increase underlying profits of £731m for 2022, helped by £617m of taxpayer subsidies for burning wood pellets.The company’s share price has soared as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed up the wholesale cost of gas, feeding through into electricity prices, which are linked to gas costs.Drax – which supplies up to 6% of the UK’s electricity – has faced criticism over the renewable energy subsidies it receives, which at £617m were down from £837m the prior year.Climate campaigners have accused Drax of greenwashing, arguing its biomass operations, which burn wood pellets to produce electricity, are far from green and can even increase the CO2 emissions driving the climate crisis.

Drax’s annual report showed the company burned 8.2m tonnes of wood in 2022, primarily shipped from North America.Matt Williams, a senior advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a

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