Activists block gates at Ineos refinery in pollution protest

By Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·4-min read

Climate activists have blocked the gates of the Ineos refinery at Grangemouth with boats in a protest against pollution.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland claims Ineos is Scotland’s biggest climate polluter and is staging the blockade as part of a programme of action.

Small groups of no more than six people have locked themselves together at the gates and aim to remain there all day.

Two boats are being used to block the entrances to the refinery and the headquarters.

Ineos said the site is operating normally.

Annie Lane, 26, a campaigner from Glasgow, said: “Ineos Grangemouth is Scotland’s largest climate polluter. It is Scotland’s only crude oil refinery.

Activists blocking the gates with boats
Activists blocking the gates with boats (Extinction Rebellion Scotland/PA)

“It also stores fracked gas from the States. Given the widely assumed ‘ban’ on fracking in Scotland, for fracked gas which harms communities worldwide to still be processed here is outrageously hypocritical.

“We are here to expose the climate destruction that Ineos is causing. We are running out of time, with the climate crisis affecting so many in the global south already.”

Campaigners held up banners stating “No Future in Fossil Fuels” and “Climate Justice = Social Justice”.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland said Covid-19 safety precautions are being taken, including face masks, social distancing and use of hand sanitiser, while participating activists are using a track and trace app.

But GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: “Extinction Rebellion look detached from the reality and struggles of working people across Scotland today.

“We are in the middle of a public health crisis and we are about to be hit by the biggest jobs crisis in a generation.

“This comes in the same week where Scotland has been caught again exporting the jobs of the future in offshore wind manufacturing, while our workhorse industries like energy and aviation are facing decimation.

“Our economy is in dire straits and no one in Scottish politics has a credible plan for jobs to aid our post-Covid recovery, but they seem willing to indulge Extinction Rebellion.

“Extinction Rebellion claim they want to save the planet but you have to ask what planet they are on when they are intent on causing so much disruption to the lives of hard-working people.

“They are looking and acting like part of the problem, not the solution.”

A demonstration is also due to take place outside the Ineos headquarters in London on Friday morning.

Meg Peyton Jones, from Edinburgh, said “We’re 10 years on from Scotland’s first Climate Act, and yet plants such as Grangemouth are still being expanded.

“We cannot trust big oil corporations to prioritise the planet and the long-term wellbeing of either their workers or the general population above squeezing every last drop of oil and gas out of the North Sea, no matter how much they try to distract us with greenwash about renewables.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers are currently in attendance at a peaceful protest in Bo’ness Road and Inchyra Road, Grangemouth.

“The roads are blocked and drivers are asked to avoid the area. We are liaising with the protest organisers, Extinction Rebellion.”

Activists blocking the gates at Grangemouth
Activists at Grangemouth (Extinction Rebellion Scotland/PA)

Ineos said between 2009 and 2019, emissions from its Grangemouth site have reduced by 37% and from the chemicals business by 43%.

An Ineos spokesman said: “Ineos products are used in a wide range of every day and essential items, currently protecting frontline healthcare professionals and their patients, whether through the use of PPE or the application of medicines to treat the effects of the pandemic and the development of antiviral drugs. The use of plastics has been invaluable during these unprecedented times.

“Our sites continue to explore ways to reduce our emissions. At the end of September, Ineos announced the largest ever purchase contract of wind energy for heavy industry in Belgium.

“The deal will reduce annual emissions by 115,000 tonnes of CO2 each year starting from next year – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road each year

“As more and more energy-intensive manufacturing industries in Scotland close down, then it is inevitable that those which the Scottish economy so heavily rely on will stand out above the rest in terms of their emissions.

“Observers should be left in no doubt: manufacturing products in the UK we rely on every day, every week, every year reduces carbon footprint from importing such items, ensures compliance with the strictest environmental and safety standards and delivers carbon savings through their applications, ‘light-weighting’ vehicles, components for wind turbines and so on.

“We do our utmost to do this as efficiently (and environmentally responsibly) as possible – because this is how we will remain in business.”