Armed police sent to tunnel after protesters lock themselves in

Armed police were called to Chertsey on Monday (August 1) after protesters campaigning against an oil pipeline project occupied a series of tunnels. Members of the group calling themselves the Fast Action Response Team occupied the tunnels, which led to Surrey Police sending an armed unit out as they were nearest to the scene. As of Tuesday (August 2) one protester remains at the tunnels where the pipeline crosses the M25 with police not announcing any arrests so far.

The pipeline works are part of a project from Esso, the trading name of oil and gas company ExxonMobil, to replace 90km of pipeline between Southampton and Heathrow. Pictures from the scene show a man, only naming himself as Digger, lying down in the tunnels. He is protesting against the pipeline project on environmental grounds with Digger, who once spent 18 days underground during the Euston station HS2 occupation, locked in his hole.

READ MORE: Oil pipeline works leave villagers fuming after Esso workers accidentally cut off water supply He said: "As the UK experiences record-breaking temperatures, ExxonMobil continues to plan for growth in climate-destroying fossil fuel use. Our world is on fire and ExxonMobil is pouring fuel onto the flames.

The current pipeline still has at least twenty years of useful life left, time which could be used to scale back air travel and develop zero-carbon alternatives."

Environmental protestors near ChertseyThe protesters occupied tunnels in Chertsey near the M25

The pipeline project has caused controversy in other areas of Surrey as well with residents of Lightwater in uproar over the amount of traffic and damage to trees caused at two separate locations in the village. A water main was also accidentally hit at one stage causing some residents without running water for one evening. ExxonMobil has so far not responded to SurreyLive's request for comment in relation to the occupations but did give a statement explaining the reasons for replacing the pipeline in the aftermath of Lightwater's residents' complaints last week.

Tim Sunderland, project executive at ExxonMobil, said the pipeline had been in use for decades and needed replacement. He said: "The project is replacing an existing aviation fuel pipeline that has been in place since 1972. It currently carries the equivalent of 100 road tankers of fuel every day.

Without the replacement pipeline, the fuel would need to be transported by truck on local roads." A spokesperson for Surrey Police confirmed the presence of armed police but did not say anyone has been arrested as a result of the occupations in Chertsey. They added the situation was being looked at closely. The spokesperson said: "We were called to reports of protestors at the Esso Southampton to London fuel pipeline replacement site in Chertsey yesterday.

The first responding officers at the scene were from the Armed Response Unit, who were nearby, however, they were not deployed in their capacity as armed officers. We are continuing to monitor the situation." READ NEXT

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