Greenpeace blocks Whitehall with oil-covered statue of Boris Johnson

·2-min read

Climate activists have disrupted traffic near Downing Street to protest against plans for a new oil field in Scotland.

Greenpeace protesters sat in the middle of a road in Whitehall on Monday morning with mock barrels and a statue of prime minister Boris Johnson splattered in oil.

Metropolitan Police officers arrived at the scene earlier but warned it could take some time to disperse the activists due to the "complex" locking systems they used to bind themselves together.

It is unclear if any arrests have been made.

The protesters are calling on Mr Johnson to intervene to stop the Cambo oil field near Shetland, Scotland.

A decision on the new North Sea oil field, which would produce 170 million barrels of oil and run until 2050, is expected in the coming weeks ahead of the crucial Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Ministers granted the site a licence in 2001 but it will only open if a permit is approved. Kwasi Kwarreng, the business secretary, is expected to give the oil field the green light.

Earlier this year Greenpeace threatened to take the government to court if a permit was to be granted to the site.

The group said that to approve any new oil projects without assessing their impact on the climate would be unlawful and undermine the government’s net-zero emissions targets.

Greenpeace said the government has not properly considered the impact the site will have on the environment.


In March the government announced that future oil licences would undergo a “climate compatibility check”, to assess how damaging new projects would be for the climate.

But Greenpeace accused the government of creating a “loophole” because the new climate checkpoint will only apply to new licences, not new permits, such as Cambo.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy previously said “there is no ‘loophole’”.

“The climate checkpoint will apply to future oil and gas rounds, while the Cambo oil field was originally licensed in 2001,” a spokesperson said.

“The secretary of state [Mr Kwarteng] is not involved in the decision to grant approval for this oil field.”

The spokesperson added: “While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.”


Monday’s protest comes just days after Greenpeace lost a legal case against the UK government over a separate oil field, also in Scotland.

Judges in Scotland’s highest court ruled that the government’s decision to grant a permit for the Vorlich oil field, off the coast of Aberdeen, was lawful.

Analysts said the decision could have ramifications for future cases. Greenpeace said it will go to the Supreme Court.

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