Climate activists leave tunnel demanding end to new oil and gas projects

·2-min read

Climate activists have ended their occupation of a tunnel dug beneath an Essex road after 13 days.

Several Just Stop Oil campaigners were in the tunnel underneath St Clements Way in Grays – a key delivery route for the nearby oil terminal – since August 23, protesting against what they see as government inaction over the climate crisis.

The tunnellers, who voluntarily left the tunnel at around 3.45pm on Sunday, are demanding the government ends new oil and gas projects in the UK.

Essex Police said three men are in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and criminal damage.

The force said the tunnel is now empty and a cordon will be in place overnight.

Work to fill the remaining tunnel will begin shortly, police said.

Sam Johnson, 39, a groundworker from Suffolk, who was in the tunnel, said: “In July we experienced 40C heat for the first time in UK history and our emergency services could not cope.

“Just look at Pakistan – one third of the country was submerged by catastrophic floods and 33 million people have been displaced.

“This is the reality of climate collapse and it is happening here in the UK, it is happening all around the world and it is happening now. That is why we need to act now.”

Xavier Gonzalez Trimmer, 21, who works in the climbing industry, was also in the tunnel and said: “I cannot stand by and watch while our government allows profiteering energy companies to drive us into poverty, destroy our jobs and wreak havoc on the climate.

“I will not stop until the government agrees to end new oil and gas.”

Joe Howlett, 32, a musician and teacher from Bath, who was also in the tunnel, said: “We are demanding that the UK government stop all new licences and consents for fossil fuels in the UK.

“Join us in Westminster on October 1st. Just Stop Oil.”

Just Stop Oil said that from October 1 in Westminster it will be organising for what it says will be “the largest act of civil disobedience in UK history”.

Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said: “I’m pleased this situation has now been concluded.

“Over the course of the last fortnight we have made more than 60 arrests and worked hard with our partners to keep disruption to our local community and businesses to a minimum and keep Essex moving.

“This work has required a huge amount of resources and has diverted officers from other duties such as the prevention and investigation of burglary, robbery, sexual and violent crime.

“We are not anti-protest but will take action where the law is broken or people’s safety is put at risk.

“I want to thank all those involved in helping to resolve this situation and the businesses and organisations impacted for the patience and understanding.”