Little to do with automatic renewal
You will have to pay for them and keep them if they are used in any way.
So if, for example, your web-host-cum-DNS registrar (if you made the fatal mistake to have them both in the same place) alias your existing .co.uk entries to uk and stuff them in a few search indexes. It takes only a small percentage of your customer base to start using them for most businesses to grudgingly pay the extortion racket.
In addition to that there is the obnoxious copyright racket - defend it or lose it. if you do not "defend" your copyright by paying all extortions you may have more difficult time defending it.
The only way to deal with the domain trading low life is to boycott any of their harebrained schemes.