Essex fuel protests: Two men convicted for aggravated trespass at Thurrock depot

The operation cost Essex Police more than £1m, the force said. Credit: Essex Police

Two men who took part in environmental protests outside Essex fuel terminals have been convicted. 

Louis McKechnie and Matthew Powell admitted to aggravated trespass at Exolum Storage in Thurrock in April this year. 

Activists belonging to the groups Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion attempted to block access to the terminals repeatedly during April, demanding that the government stop new oil and gas projects.

The protests caused widespread disruption and cost Essex Police more than £1m to deal with.

McKechnie, from Weymouth, was ordered to pay a total of £339, including a £200 fine, by Chelmsford Magistrates' Court. The 21-year-old was also ordered to forfeit glue and a chain which he used during the protest on 11 April.

Matthew Powell, 22, from Bath, was given a 12-month conditional discharge at the same court, ordered to pay £127 and forfeit a lock used during the protest on 10 April. 

Police had previously called for fuel companies to step up their own security and take the pressure off officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Pavelin said: “We have consistently said our priority during this time was to ensure the safety of all those involved in the disruption; be that our own officers, other emergency services colleagues and indeed those causing the disruption.

“We welcome these convictions, which are our second and third respectively, and our investigative teams continue to build cases against a number of others.”

The first fuel protester to be convicted over the blockades was a 64-year-old woman from West Sussex.

McKechnie and Powell appeared in court on Tuesday alongside 12 other people, who all denied charges against them.

The 12 defendants are next due to appear before Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 8 August. A three-day trial has been set for the same court to begin on 20 September, police said.