Climate activists have broken into the UK’s largest inland oil terminal and chained themselves to pipes, bringing distribution to a halt.
Thirty-seven Just Stop Oil protesters scaled a spiked fence and used a hacksaw to break through an unguarded rear gate into the Kingsbury site, in Warwickshire, just after midnight on Thursday.
They let down the tires of parked-up tankers before climbing onto the trucks and handcuffing themselves to pipework. Police, who were guarding the front entrance at the time, were left apparently flat-footed by the break-in.
The demonstrators told The Independent they knew they faced arrest but felt their actions were “vital” to “confront the complacency” around fossil fuels.
“People have tried holding banners and going on protests and marches, and nothing has changed – we are still killing the planet,” said Paul Sheeky, speaking on Thursday morning from atop one of the tankers. “And this might not achieve anything beyond some disruption either but no-one else I’ve come across as come up with a better plan so it’s vital we do this stuff.
“I don’t want to be here. It’s freezing cold on a horrible industrial plant – I’m going to end up being arrested – but it’s the only way I can see to try and get through to the government and to people, and to confront the complacency around the damage fossil fuels are doing.”
Reports suggest workers at the site may have turned on sprinklers in a bid to stop the activists’ occupation. But Mr Sheeky, a 46-year-old environmental consultant from Warrington, said Just Stop Oil’s fight was not with staff.
“If we were transitioning to a green economy we would be seeing thousands of cleaner, good quality jobs created,” he added.
By 10am on Thursday morning, it is thought about half of the protestors inside the site – which is operated by Indian multinational Essar – had been arrested and removed.
Warwickshire Police said a “significant operation” was underway that would “take action to deal with unlawful activity robustly and protect the rights of others”.
The occupation comes as part of a spring and summer of civil disobedience planned by Just Stop Oil and sister group Extinction Rebellion, which has so far included blockading the massive Navigator oil terminal in Essex and disrupting Premier League football matches. Some 400 people have been arrested since 1 April.
The groups point to Monday’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as proof of the need for such drastic action.
In that, United Nations scientists said the time was “now or never” to limit the destruction that is already being wrought by the climate crisis. They said a “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in carbon dioxide emissions must now take place and called for an end to the fossil fuel age.
But it remains unclear how popular Just Stop Oil’s current action will be, with disruption to fuel supplies set push prices higher at the pumps at a time when millions of families face the biggest cost-of-living crisis in generations.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.