CLIMATE campaigners camped in the shadow of Drax Power Station have been branded "eco-bullies" by a leading local councillor.

Stephen Penn, chairman of Barlow Parish Council, spoke out as hundreds of green activists descended on a field by Barlow Common nature reserve on Saturday at the start of the ten-day protest.

The Camp For Climate Action aims to shut down the plant near Selby to highlight the problem of global warming.

Thousands of protestors are expected to visit the site on a squatted farmer's field during the gathering.

But Coun Penn said the camp was a nuisance for villagers and dismissed as "childish" and "insulting" a letter sent to residents by activists explaining their actions.

He said: "These people have no regard for and simply do not care about any problems their camp might cause to local residents.

"This is not the way to win over support for a very real and serious issue which affects, or will affect, us all.

"Sadly, the amusement in the village as a result of the childish letter from the protesters is developing into anger and disappointment."

Coun Penn said he was amazed the activists had been allowed access to a water main and claimed a makeshift road hump near the camp's entrance had damaged cars.

"At least four residents have suffered damage to their vehicles ranging from a loss of a front bumper to damage to undersides of their vehicle because of the lack of warning," he said.

"There is surprise in the village that these intruders have been allowed to take water from the public supply, let alone be allowed to obstruct the main road into Barlow in this manner."

He also claimed some campaigners were guilty of an "attitude of secrecy and threats of law breaking and violence."

He said: "The content of their website comes over as intimidating and bullying and indeed their cowardice in refusing to cooperate with the police and finding a reasonable place to camp is typical of the common bully."

The Press reported yesterday that police have been drafted in from across the country following the protestors' threats to close down Drax.

Power station bosses have warned that because it is such an important plant - supplying seven per cent of Britain's electricity needs - any shutdown could destabilise the National Grid and lead to power cuts.