Animal Rebellion protesters blockade UK’s largest dairy factory

·5-min read
Animal Rebellion protesters set up camp outside Arla’s factory in Aylesbury  (Animal Rebellion )
Animal Rebellion protesters set up camp outside Arla’s factory in Aylesbury (Animal Rebellion )

Environmental activists have blocked the entrance and exit to the UK’s largest dairy factory, preventing the delivery of thousands of pints of milk.

Protesters from Animal Rebellion, an off-shoot group of Extinction Rebellion, arrived at 5am on Tuesday morning and erected two wooden tower structures at the entrance and exit of Arla’s factory in Aylesbury.

Around 50 activists are now camped out at the site, with some “locked-on” to a van and lying in the middle of the roads in and out of the dairy plant.

Police are at the scene and have started using a specialist removal team to remove protesters from the wooden teepee and make arrests.

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Thames Valley officers are urging people to avoid the area and have put a road closure in place on the A41 to manage traffic.

Dairy giant, Arla Foods UK, which supplies milk to most major supermarkets, confirmed in a statement that it could not get any large vehicles in and out of its factory. At capacity, an average of 20 lorries usually access the site each hour.

The factory processes up to 420,000 pints of milk an hour and makes around 400 deliveries from the site each day.

Activist James Ozden, who is at the protest, said: “We arrived quite close to 5am this morning and parked our van and put up our structure and equipment. The police came pretty soon after we got here and have been around for about four hours now.

“I think they are waiting for the process removal team to come because they are not equipped to remove us yet.

“There’s a pretty huge queue of backlog lorries on both sides. It’s definitely quite inconvenient and there are a lot of workers out here milling around because they don’t have anything to do.

“There are no HGVs or milk product lorries coming in and out of Arla today.”

Mr Ozden predicted the activists could be there for two to three days, saying: “we’ve got relatively strong kit and committed people.”

Around 20 people are “locked on” to various structures and other activists have set up tents and gazebos around the area.

Mr Ozden added: “If we are going to address the climate crisis then we need to have a major shift from animal-based food products to plant-based. We are calling for an urgent transition.”

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A spokesperson for Arla said: “As a cooperative owned by farmers we are committed to producing dairy for the UK in the most sustainable way possible. We already make raw milk with around half the average emissions of dairy globally and intend to be carbon net zero by 2050.

“We are working with the police to limit the impact of this demonstration to both our customers and those living locally to the site.

“We have managed to complete our morning shift change over and all colleagues are safe, however, access to the site for our larger vehicles is being blocked. We are working to manage the impact of this.”

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A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: “Thames Valley Police officers are at the site of a protest outside the Arla dairy in Aylesbury.

“At 5.17am this morning reports were received that a number of protestors had gathered and blocked the entrance to the dairy. Officers attended the scene within minutes.

“A road closure has been put in place on the A41 to manage traffic and minimise disruption to the local community and businesses. We would advise people to avoid the area and find alternative routes. The road closure may be in place for some time.

“Officers are on scene and are liaising with the landowner, and those who have gathered to protest, and will be working to return normality to the site as soon as possible.”

They added that while the police force “strives to facilitate the rights of the public to protest and demonstrate peacefully”, they would “look to remove and if necessary arrest” anyone believed to be engaged in “direct action to disrupt lawful activity”.

Last month the dairy giant was forced to cut back on deliveries because of the impacts of the country-wide lorry driver shortage.

Arla’s UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi said that the producer was struggling to supply some supermarkets with milk due to the crisis.

The Independent also revealed last week that Arla had been asked to stop sending milkshake mix to McDonald’s after supply chain issues, blamed on Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, left the fast-food chain unable to sell any milkshakes.

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