Vicars hold church service in Labour HQ to protest against oil field licence

A group of vicars have occupied and held a church service inside the Labour Party headquarters in London to “grieve with all those who stand to suffer” from a proposed oil field.

Five members of the Christian Climate Action group occupied the lobby of the building in central London on Wednesday to protest against Labour’s refusal to cancel the Rosebank oil field licence, whilst more than 20 others protested outside.

Short church services were held by members of the clergy both inside and outside the building.

The PA news agency understands these services were “to create a space to grieve with all those who stand to suffer if Rosebank goes ahead”.

Reverend Helen Burnett led one of the services, and said she participated in the protest to stand in solidarity with those being “exploited for the benefit of the few”.

“The Labour movement grew out of workers demanding a better life for themselves and others like them. New oil fields like Rosebank make the rich richer, whilst emitting CO2 at levels that will make the planet uninhabitable for the poorest workers of the world,” she said in a written statement.

“Jesus stood in solidarity with the poorest and those who suffered, and so today I too want to stand with the many worldwide who are being, yet again, exploited for the benefit of the few.

“We want bread and roses, not oil and gas, and we want to remind Labour of its roots in standing up for the workers, not the profiteers.”

The protesters held banners reading “Labour must stop Rosebank” and handed a letter to the front desk, urging the party to suspend plans for the oil field should it form the next government.

Reverend Canon Jonathan Herbert also protested at the headquarters and said plans for the oil field were “madness”.

Christian Climate Action protest
Christian Climate Action members outside the Labour Party HQ in central London (Christian Climate Action/PA)

“I’m shocked and saddened by Labour’s cutting back of its visionary Green Deal,” he said in a written statement.

“To invest in Rosebank, when there are so many cheaper alternative fuel sources, is madness.”

The Rosebank oil field was approved by the Government in September 2023. Located 80 miles west of Shetland, Scotland, it is the UK’s largest untapped oil field and is estimated to contain up to 300 million barrels of oil.

Sir Keir Starmer confirmed in September that, if his party wins the next general election, it would respect the Conservative Government’s decision to approve the oil field and would uphold existing oil and gas licences, whilst banning any new ones.

Police arrived at the site soon after the protest began and spoke to the protesters, who then left the building, the Metropolitan Police said. The force confirmed that no arrests were made.

The Labour Party declined to comment.