GREENPEACE activists have dodged lengthy prison sentences after breaking into Spain’s most powerful nuclear plant.

A total of 16 activists and a photojournalist faced up to three years in jail – and fines of up to €357,000 – for damage caused at the Iberdrola-run Cofrentes plant, near Valencia.

The Valencia court instead fined each activist €1,080 and Greenpeace a further €2,232 for damage to a fence at the plant, which produces 5% of the country’s electricity overall.

Activists and Agence France-Presse photojournalist Pedro Armestre, 42, were accused of criminal damage, breaching public order and injuring two security guards.

Mario Rodriquez, the director of Greenpeace in Spain, said: “The sentence makes clear that attempts to criminalise peaceful protest have been in vain.

“They will not be able to silence us with threats or big fines, not with threats of jail.”