Climate protesters smash petrol pumps at motorway services

·3-min read

Climate activists have sabotaged petrol pumps and blocked forecourts at two motorway service stations.

Supporters of Just Stop Oil smashed display glass and covered it in spray paint at the pumps at Cobham Services in Surrey and Clacket Lane Services in Kent at 7am on Thursday.

They then glued themselves to the pumps, signs and the top of a lorry.

The group also blocked motorists from entering the forecourts.

Surrey Police said 35 people were taken into custody after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass.

Just Stop Oil had said 35 people were involved in the action.

In an update on Thursday afternoon, police said both forecourts had been cleared and reopened after protesters were removed using specialist equipment.

The force said “significant damage” had been caused to the pumps on both forecourts, with a total of 35 pumps damaged at Cobham Services, and a further 20 pumps damaged at Clacket Lane. The HGV pumps at both sites were unaffected.

Superintendent Graham Barnett said around 40 officers were involved in dealing with the protest, and the need to use specialist de-bonding equipment to safely remove the protesters in a “lengthy and complex process” meant the incident took “some time to resolve”.

He said: “We appreciate that this (protest activity) caused considerable disruption to motorists attempting to use the services and to the petrol stations themselves, who will also have suffered a huge financial loss as a result of this activity.”

He added: “While we are required to facilitate peaceful protest, we will always take action against those who break the law and significantly impact on the lives and livelihoods of others, and clearly if officers are caught up dealing with protest activity, they aren’t elsewhere preventing crime and responding as quickly to reports from the public.”

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, the MP for Esher and Walton, tweeted: “Thank you to the police for responding to this outrageous behaviour in Cobham.

“We will not allow militants to sabotage people’s lives.

“That’s why Government reinforced the law to allow the police to take the necessary action – which Labour and Lib Dems opposed.”

One of the activists, Nathan McGovern, a 22-year-old student from Coventry, said: “I refuse to stand by and watch as heatwaves and drought murder people across the global south and families in the UK are forced to choose between eating and heating.

Just Stop Oil protest
Campaigners at Clacket Lane Services (Just Stop Oil/PA)

“If politicians and bureaucrats refuse to act then it falls on ordinary people to do what they will not.”

Just Stop Oil described the sabotage of petrol pumps as “a significant escalation”.

The move is reminiscent of Insulate Britain’s protests between September and November last year, when M25 junctions were repeatedly blocked.

Just Stop Oil began its protests on April 1.

Just Stop Oil protest
Police at Cobham Services (Just Stop Oil/PA)

It has carried out a series of blockades of fuel terminals in south-east England and the Midlands, and targeted several high-profile football matches.

More than 1,000 arrests have been made.

The group said it will “continue the disruption until the Government makes a statement that it will end new oil and gas projects in the UK”.

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