Just Stop Oil protesters blockade central London petrol stations

Environmental activists stage sit-down protests, blocking entrances and gluing themselves to pumps

Environmental protesters have taken action at petrol stations in central London, vandalising pumps, blockading entrances and spray painting “no new oil” across signs.

The Just Stop Oil campaign said 51 of its supporters took part in the demonstrations at seven petrol stations on Friday morning. Some groups staged sit-down protests at entrances or glued themselves to pumps, while others moved from station to station damaging pumps.

“Today’s action was timed to coincide with the announcement by Ofgem of a massive increase in electricity bills for October, which will push millions more into poverty, forced to choose between heating and eating,” the group said.

Friday’s protests were the third day of actions taken by supporters of Just Stop Oil this week, after it took a hiatus over the summer. The group says it is building up towards mass blockades of Westminster in October.

The Metropolitan police tweeted: “Protesters have targeted a number of petrol stations this morning, causing disruption [and] damaging pumps. Officers are at each of the targeted locations, we have made a number of arrests [and] specialist teams are removing those who are glued to pumps.”

Phoebe Frewer, from Brighton, was among nine protesters blocking access to a BP garage on Western Avenue at about 6.30am. Electronic displays on the pumps were smashed and spray painted, the station’s signage graffitied, and police were parked nearby with blue lights flashing. One activist was arrested and taken away, according to others on the scene.

“We have picked this location because it is in the 99th percentile of the worst pollution in the UK,” Frewer, 20, said. “There’s a study by Imperial College London in 2019 and they basically said that every year on average about 4,000 die from air pollution in London alone.

“That equates to about 11 deaths a day. That’s why we’re here at this location specifically.”

A woman sprays a message reading ‘no new oil’ on a sign outside a BP petrol station during the Just Stop Oil protest
A woman sprays a message reading ‘no new oil’ on a sign outside a BP petrol station during the Just Stop Oil protest on Friday. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Selma Heimedinger, 22, from Hampshire, sat nearby glued to the hose of a smashed petrol pump, with two other protesters. She told the Guardian: “We are taking action here today because oil is killing people now around the world and in the UK, and the government thinks it’s OK to go ahead with 40 new oil and gas licences.

“We have eight years to do a transition to renewable energy and all the science tells us we can have no new fossil fuels, and yet the government thinks it is OK to plough on as if everything is OK.”

Just Stop Oil began its renewed campaign of direct action on Tuesday, with blockades of major oil terminals in Essex and Warwickshire, followed by actions at service stations on the M25 motorway on Wednesday.

Actions on Thursday were called off due to heavy rain. Some protesters remain in tunnels beneath two access roads to Essex oil terminals, one of which has been closed while the other remains open.

The campaign started on 1 April, and its supporters have vowed to continue to take action until the government agrees to a moratorium on all new oil and gas extraction projects.

Just Stop Oil said: “This is the moment to come together and resist. We are not prepared to just watch while they destroy everything we love. We’re done with begging. Voting has changed nothing. We are going to stop new oil whether those in power agree or not.”


Damien Gayle

The GuardianTramp

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