Police arrest 275 people after series of fuel protests by Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil

Extinction Rebellion handout photo of their Activists blockading Esso West oil facility near Heathrow Airport in London. Picture date: Monday April 4, 2022.
Extinction Rebellion photo of their Activists blockading Esso West oil facility near Heathrow Airport Credit: XR

Police have arrested 275 people after a series of fuel protests across the UK.

Essex Police said they had arrested 10 people on Monday following a number of demonstrations at fuel sites in the county on Friday.

The force added it had now arrested 172 people in total and it was “continuing to engage with a small number of people remaining in situ”.

Activists from Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have been blocking access to oil terminals over the past four days, demanding that the Government stops new oil and gas projects.

They said supporters of the group who had dug a secret network of tunnels at the Navigator Oil terminal in Thurrock and Grays oil terminals, both in Essex, remain underground as part of the action.

Activists from Extinction Rebellion blockading Esso West oil facility near Heathrow

On Monday, Extinction Rebellion said around 30 protesters returned to the Esso oil facility, near Heathrow Airport in west London, at 4am, erecting a bamboo structure in front of its entrance.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said four people had been arrested, bringing the total number of arrests following protests in London and Staines to 18.

Warwickshire Police meanwhile said it had arrested 68 people for a range of alleged offences including criminal damage, obstructing a highway and public order offences after weekend protests at Kingsbury Oil Terminal.

West Midlands Police said 13 people had been arrested following a protest at a terminal in Tyburn, Birmingham on Sunday. Hampshire Police said its figure stood at four arrests after demonstrations took place on Friday at Hythe Terminal in New Road in Hythe and at BP in Hamble Lane and Copse Lane.

Andrew Smith, from Extinction Rebellion, said following the Esso protest: “We’re here to say that climate action cannot wait. Right now, governments are choosing to exploit the crisis in Ukraine to hand out oil licences and continue the fossil fuel economy that’s destroying us.

“The reality is, the UK public wants faster action on climate as the energy crisis hits. We know what is happening and what needs to be done – by acting in favour of corporate interest over the will of the people, the Government is showing contempt for the people who elected them.

“How long ago did our Prime Minister say Cop26 was our last chance to save humanity? And now they’re sidelining climate policy once again. This is not living in reality.”

The group said further action is expected on April 9 in London’s Hyde Park.

'Ongoing demand for oil and gas'

A Government spokesperson said: “Any criminal activity will not be tolerated, and swift action is being taken by the police, preventing significant disruption to the public and industry.

“While we are working to drive down our use of expensive fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming decades while we transition to cheaper low-carbon energy.

“As the Business Secretary has said, turning off our domestic source of gas overnight would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk, leaving us more dependent on foreign imports.”