More than 80 arrested as Essex oil terminal blockades continue

More than 80 people have been arrested in Essex as climate change protesters continued to block oil terminals. Activists from Just Stop Oil said on Saturday that they had blocked access to the Titan Truck Park and revealed a secret underground network of tunnels at the Navigator and Grays oil terminals. Linked environmental group Extinction Rebellion warned there would be “major disruption to come” as climate change protesters demanded that the Government stops new oil and gas projects.

It comes after the groups said on Friday that their action would have a “potential impact on fuel supply for London and the south east” as some locked themselves to oil tankers. Essex Police said on Saturday that officers had arrested 83 people after protests in the Thurrock district.

Activists from Just Stop Oil revealed a secret underground network of tunnels at the Navigator and Grays oil terminalsCredit: Just Stop Oil/PA

The force said 63 were arrested on Friday following protests in Oliver Road, Grays, London Road, Purfleet, and Askews Farm Lane, also in Grays, while another 20 were arrested on Saturday in Oliver Road and Stoneness Road, Grays. Police said they were arrested on suspicion of a variety of offences.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “Our officers are continuing to work in exceptionally challenging circumstances with a view to bringing these protests to a safe and swift conclusion. “I would like to thank businesses, local drivers and workers for their continued patience whilst we carry out our work.” The Telegraph reported on Friday that protesters who blocked oil sites while complaining that the companies funded the war in Ukraine were accused of “playing into Putin’s hands” by sowing discord in the UK.

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East and the chairman of the Commons defence select committee, said the protesters “will alienate much of Britain that will actually be supportive of their wider cause”. The Just Stop Oil activists said Saturday morning’s tunnel activity at Grays and Navigator meant the main and emergency access roads to the oil terminals were closed. The protesters added that Titan Truck Park contains more than 100 oil tankers that service the three major oil terminals in the area.

Just Stop Oil protesters at the Titan Truck Park in GraysCredit: Just Stop Oil/PA

It comes after demonstrators from the environmental groups obstructed 10 fuel sites in the Midlands and southern England in the early hours of Friday to stand against “expanding UK oil and gas production”.

Protesters were glued on to roads, suspended on bamboo tripods and locked on to oil drums and each other from around 4am. ExxonMobil UK, one of the country’s largest privately owned underground oil pipeline distribution networks, said it shut down three of its terminals as a result, and police from at least five forces were deployed to tackle the demonstrations. The Met arrested 14 activists who broke into a facility at Bedfont Road in Staines, Surrey, and West Midlands Police arrested six people at a terminal in Tyburn, Birmingham.

Police said arrests were made for offences including aggravated trespass, criminal damage and obstructing the highway.