Hundreds of environmental protesters have blocked 10 oil terminals across the country as part of a campaign to paralyse the UK’s fossil fuel infrastructure.
Early on Friday, supporters of Just Stop Oil began blockades at oil refineries around London, Birmingham and Southampton by climbing on top of tankers and gluing themselves to road surfaces.
Shortly after 4am, activists blocked terminals in Purfleet and Grays, Essex, which they said were the biggest in the country. In Tamworth, near Birmingham, a group of more than two dozen protesters had been hoping to disrupt the nearby Kingsbury oil terminal. However, due to police intervention they were able only to block a road leading to the site.
Just Stop Oil has demanded that the government agree to halt all new licences for fossil fuel projects in the UK. They have vowed to continue disrupting the UK’s oil infrastructure until the government agrees.
Louis McKecknie, 21 from Weymouth, who last month zip-tied his neck to a goalpost at Goodison Park, Everton’s football ground, as part of the campaign, said: “I don’t want to be doing this but our genocidal government gives me no choice. They know that oil is funding Putin’s war and pushing millions of people into fuel poverty while energy companies reap billions in profits. They know that to allow more oil and gas extraction in the UK is suicidal and will accelerate global heating.
“It means millions dying of heat stress, losing their homes or having to fight for food. This is the future for my generation, I stop when oil stops.”
The action is part of a planned series of protests against UK oil infrastructure. Extinction Rebellion, which is to begin its next wave of protests on 9 April, said it supported the Just Stop Oil campaign and had mobilised its activists to join.
Just Stop Oil has said its campaign marks a shift from civil disobedience to civil resistance. What this means, one supporter told the Guardian last month, “is stopping pointing out what the government should or shouldn’t be doing [and instead] actively stopping government doing what they shouldn’t be”.
Friday’s blockades came in defiance of a temporary high court injunction banning groups from protesting outside oil terminals. Outside Kingsbury and on roads leading to the site, posters said: “Temporary high court injunction in force. Blocking, slowing down, obstructing or interfering with traffic on to this road as part of protest activity by Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain movements and other connected movements is strictly prohibited. Failure to comply with the injunction may lead to imprisonment.”
In Tamworth, activists had gathered in a nearby McDonald’s before making their way to the site but were initially deterred from acting by a police helicopter.
One activist said scouts had seen large numbers of police in unmarked cars near the site. They feared that if they got into vehicles for the last leg of their intended journey they would be pulled over and arrested, but hoped they could find a way through. Eventually, the group split up and most made their way to Kingsbury on foot.
Activists in Tamworth said police had tried to prevent them from reaching the Kingsbury oil terminal but realised they had no power to obstruct or detain them. By just after 8am on Friday, several had managed to make their way to the site’s main entrance, where they sat to block lorries from leaving or entering the site.
“It’s us against the state,” said one protester. “And we’re going to lose, but we have to try something.”
Essex police said thirteen people had been arrested in Thurrock on suspicion of obstruction of the highway.