Video report by ITV News West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn
Veteran environmentalist Swampy who made his name campaigning in the 1990s has said Extinction Rebellion has given “hope” as he appeared in court for obstructing access to an oil refinery.
Daniel Hooper – formerly known as Swampy – appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court for willfully obstructing free passage along a highway, as part of a protest blocking access to Valero.
He made the stand on September 19 and pleaded guilty on Tuesday, leaving court with a £40 fine to pay, as well as a surcharge of £32 and £85 in costs.
The environmentalist became a household name in the 1990s after spending a week living in a network of tunnels to disrupt the extension to the A30 in Devon.
Aftera quiet run of ten years without a court conviction – during which he started a family – Mr Hooper told ITV News, Extinction Rebellion has given “hope” on an issue that is “more important than Brexit”.
“My beliefs are the same as they always were,” he said.
“And then Extinction Rebellion started happening and I think there is hope. I believe there is hope. Now everyone needs to really think about what we’re doing.
“Governments need to change, companies need to change. We need people's assemblies to decide what to do.”
He added: “This is a state of emergency.”
Now living in a village in South Wales, Mr Hooper said everyone needs to take their own responsibilities but the Government must take action.
“This is the most important issue of the day, more important than Brexit,” he said.
Responding to claims people might make that he has just caused trouble over the years and that a £40 fine is not enough, Mr Hooper said we are now in “desperate times”.
“The directors of these companies that are profiting at the expense of the planet should be the ones in court, not me,” he told ITV News.
“I think it’s a shame we have to do this. No one wanted to disrupt the workers, no one wanted to cause problems for people, we want people to have jobs.”
Extinction Rebellion protesters around the world have marched to demand their governments take action, with a particularly large focus around Westminster.
Streets were cut off and police have warned demonstrators they face arrest if they do not move from areas when told.
“It’s not about the workers, it’s not about causing people to sit in traffic, it’s about keeping the conversation going and keeping the planet alive,” Mr Hooper said.
“It’s got to the point where we are in desperate times and need desperate measures – we’ve always needed desperate measures.”