Downing Street has today promised a crackdown on eco-activists using ‘guerilla tactics’ following a spate of disruptive protests on oil depots across the UK.
In the strongest statement yet on the eco-mob ‘Just Stop Oil’, Number 10 today pledged that it would ‘not tolerate’ those obstructing people ‘going about their day-to-day business’.
It comes after activists from the protest group chained themselves to pipes high up at Grays oil depot in Essex.
The group tweeted just before 7am that protesters still remained at the site more than 24 hours later.
One protestor today posted a video in which he, ironically, referred to the ‘cost of living crisis’.
Responding to the group’s tactics, a No 10 spokeswoman said: ‘We recognise the strength of feeling and the right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but we won’t tolerate guerrilla tactics that obstruct people going about their day-to-day business.’
The spokeswoman added: ‘We fully support the police who are putting significant resource into their response to the demonstrations.’
It comes as a furious motorist today revealed how they had to drive 46 miles to fill up because of the disruption to the UK’s petrol supplies, while others said they did not have enough fuel to go to work today.
One driver, recounting their nightmare journey yesterday, told MailOnline: ‘Every petrol station we tried was shut – we drove 11 miles to Aylesbury first and then 17 miles to Bicester before giving up and driving the ten miles back home.
A group of Just Stop Oil activists at a major oil depot in Grays, Essex
Long queues at a petrol station in Hampton, Peterborough this morning, where only a few pumps were in operation
Motorists queueing at a Tesco petrol station in Ashford this morning. Fair Fuel today said it was receiving ‘mixed messages’ about the picture across the country
A sign reading ‘out of fuel’ outside a station in Ashford as it was forced to turn away drivers
Pumps at a petrol station in Ashford covered with ‘sorry out of use’ tags
‘The next day we drove to Winslow which is another eight miles away before finding fuel there. It is total pot luck’
This morning, other drivers took to social media to vent their frustration at the protesters’ ‘selfish, naive’ actions. ‘No petrol stations near to me have any fuel, no fuel means I can’t work,’ one Twitter user wrote this morning.
Another added: ‘I’m working today. I have enough petrol to get there but we probably don’t have enough fuel in the work vehicles to take vulnerable people to medical appointments so they’ll have to be cancelled.’
Priti Patel has called the protesters ‘selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous’ while George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, criticised their ‘extreme’ tactics.
Campaign group Fair Fuel said up to a third of petrol stations were closed yesterday, while pictures showed some remained shut today.
Fair Fuel founder Howard Cox told MailOnline supplies remained ‘patchy’ – with diesel particularly affected – but overall the situation was better than on the weekend.
The AA last night shortages had been ‘isolated’ and none of its 2,700 patrols had experienced difficulties getting fuel.
Meanwhile, the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents around 65% of independently owned forecourts, said: ‘We are aware of protests at several fuel supply sites; however, the majority are unaffected.’
Supply issues tend to hit motorists in London and the South East worse than elsewhere.
This is most likely due the regions’ higher population densities, Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, has previously said.
Campaign group Just Stop Oil is now on its eleventh day of disruptive protests.
A video posted at 3.30am this morning showed one activist at Grays oil depot filming a selfie video from inside a pipe.
‘We’re still in the pipes, still stopping oil, still stopping whatever we non-violently can to resist the collapse of our liveable future,’ he said.
‘We really hope to make it to 24 hours and beyond because that’s the only way this government will listen.
‘This corrupt government that is pushing us towards not just a climate catastrophe but a social crisis.
‘We’re in the depths of a cost of living emergency… we’re in the depths of a legitimacy crisis and unless Boris Johnson gets on with the job and stops oil and legitimacy crisis will extend to the entire global system’.
Today, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: ‘A right to protest is important but not if it’s causing havoc with other people’s lives. That’s wrong and not acceptable.
‘We all recognise that we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels… this is a mainstream agenda, people really don’t need to do these extreme protests to get their point heard.’
A video posted at 3.30am this morning showed a Just Stop Oil protester occupying Grays oil depot in Essex saying ‘we’re still out here’
Members of the public vented their fury at ‘selfish- eco protesters this morning
A Tesco Petrol station near Cambridge on Sunday after it run out of fuel
Protesters have been holding up fuel supplies by targeting Grays oil depot and two other crucial sites in Warwickshire and Hertfordshire.
And yesterday some also blocked two central London bridges in a series of ‘exceptionally dangerous’ stunts.
The mayhem comes ahead of a record 21.5million motorists preparing to take to the roads this coming Easter weekend.
Yesterday, a frustrated Priti Patel said: ‘Hard-working people across our country are seeing their lives brought to a standstill by selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous so-called activists.
‘Keir Starmer’s Labour Party repeatedly voted against our proposals that would have given the police extra powers to deal with this eco mob. The police have my full backing in doing everything necessary to address this public nuisance.’
In a sign of the havoc, nearly a third of drivers surveyed in the Midlands and the South East reported a lack of fuel at forecourts. Diesel was in especially short supply.
At the Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire (pictured), protesters claimed to have dug a tunnel under a tanker route in a bid to block deliveries to forecourts
Pictured: Protesters block the Esso West oil facility near Heathrow Airport
Ministers had planned to introduce new powers to help police tackle eco-protesters but the measures were blocked in the House of Lords in January.
At the time, Miss Patel accused Labour of siding with ‘vandals and thugs’.
Proposed measures had included an offence of ‘locking on’ in a bid to stop protesters resorting to the common tactic of chaining themselves to buildings and vehicles.
New stop and search powers were also proposed to allow police to detain protesters arriving carrying bike locks and other equipment designed to make themselves difficult to remove.
Ministers are expected to try to revive the measures in the next Queen’s Speech.
Yesterday the Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion fanatics brought chaos to fuel depots.
At the Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire they claimed to have dug a tunnel under a tanker route in a bid to block deliveries to forecourts.
On Lambeth Bridge (pictured), hundreds of protesters prevented cars and buses from using the key route linking north and south London
Up to 40 campaigners then locked themselves to the gates of the Buncefield terminal in Hertfordshire.
This was followed by further action at the Exolum storage terminal in Grays, Essex.
The group has vowed to continue until ministers agree to stop all new fossil fuel investments. On Lambeth Bridge, hundreds of protesters prevented cars and buses from using the key route linking north and south London.
The protest had a festival atmosphere, with speakers playing dance music and a stall handing out pasta and falafel. The activists sat down and refused to move for hours. However they allowed ambulances to pass.
A samba band joined the protesters blocking cars and buses on Vauxhall Bridge.
The protest had a festival atmosphere, with speakers playing dance music and a stall handing out pasta and falafel
The Metropolitan Police reopened both London bridges by 8pm last night, making 38 arrests. Essex Police said the depot protest tactics were becoming ‘exceptionally dangerous’ and putting activists and officers at ‘unacceptable’ risk of harm.
Assistant Chief Constable Glen Pavelin said: ‘We cannot stand by while criminal acts are being committed, and lives are being put at risk, in the name of protest.’
The force has made 338 arrests since the protests began on April 1.
Warwickshire Police has detained 180 people and its assistant chief constable, Ben Smith, said: ‘While we will always recognise and respect the public’s right to peaceful protest, we will take action against anyone who breaks the law or causes significant impact on the local community.’
A spokesman for the UK Petroleum Industry Association said: ‘The industry is working hard to ensure fuels are being delivered as quickly as possible.’