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Fuel protests creating an ‘unacceptable’ risk of harm, Essex Police say amid fuel shortages which have hit Suffolk



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Days of 'exceptionally dangerous' fuel protests are putting activists and officers at 'unacceptable' risk of harm as the number of arrests are set to top 350, Essex Police have said.

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

This has caused one in three garages to run dry of petrol and/or diesel, according to the Campaign for Fair Fuel group.

Climate protests have left petrol stations across the country short of fuel. Picture: John Nurden
Climate protests have left petrol stations across the country short of fuel. Picture: John Nurden

Long queues were seen at garages across Suffolk late last week, with some shutting or putting up signs to say they had no petrol or diesel left.

While about 350 protestors have now been arrested in Essex, filling stations are still facing issues getting their supply of fuel.

Assistant chief constable of Essex Police, 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.

Police officers from the Protester Removal Team work to free a Just Stop Oil activist. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA (56003177)
Police officers from the Protester Removal Team work to free a Just Stop Oil activist. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA (56003177)

“We are not anti-protest. Our job is to preserve life and catch criminals, and that’s what we’re going to do."

The force has said that policing protests in Thurrock had cost Essex Police 'in excess of £1 million'.

Mr Pavelin said of the protesters whose 'acts of criminality on site are not only illegal, but they are continuing to put themselves and our officers at real risk of harm and that is unacceptable'.

The impact of the protests is being felt by the people of Essex and beyond, he said.

Drivers queueing for diesel on April 7, 2022. No unleaded was available. Picture by Chris Morris
Drivers queueing for diesel on April 7, 2022. No unleaded was available. Picture by Chris Morris

He added: “We’ve been lucky to have extra support from specialist officers from across the country, to support some of our officers continuing with their day jobs.”

Warwickshire Police said that a further 29 arrests were made at the weekend in connection with ongoing protests at Kingsbury Oil Terminal.

Those in custody have been arrested for offences including criminal damage, conspiracy to cause criminal damage and conspiracy to commit public nuisance in what assistant chief constable of Warwickshire Police, Ben Smith, described as 'another busy weekend' for the force.

This morning, there remain up to 12 people still locked onto pipework in the Inter Terminal in Essex and a number of people still occupying a tunnel under a major access route to the Kingsbury Oil terminal in Warwickshire.

Queues at Sudbury Sainsbury's. Picture by Leonard Adams
Queues at Sudbury Sainsbury's. Picture by Leonard Adams

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said: "Over 400 people have joined actions that have succeeded in stopping operations for up to 24 hours at a time at 11 critical oil terminals that supply fuel to hundreds of petrol stations across the Midlands and South of England.

"As many as one in three petrol stations are being reported as shut in the South of England due to the disruption caused by the actions.

"This is miserable, and our hearts go out to all those who are disrupted.

"No one wants to be doing this, but it’s 2022 and right now there is a need to break the law so we are not guilty of greater crime, that of complicity with a great evil.

"We have no choice but to enter into civil resistance until the government announces an end to new oil and gas projects in the UK."