Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion began to obstruct 10 sites in the Midlands and southern England on Friday, April 1, gluing themselves to roads, locking themselves to oil drums and to each other.
On Saturday activists from Just Stop Oil said they have blocked access to the Titan Truck Park and revealed an underground network of tunnels at the Navigator and Grays oil terminals in Essex intended to stymy any attempted evictions.
They say they are demanding that the UK government stop new oil and gas projects.
The protest comes as the UK government re-evaluates its energy policy in response to rising fuel costs and the energy security challenges thrown up by the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia.
With the public already facing a 50 percent hike in heating costs, the government has indicated a willingness to turn to oil and gas sources—including North Sea Oil, and to explore the all-but-abandoned possibility of fracking—to reduce the pressure on households.
Just Stop Oil says that the solution should not lie in fossil fuels. In a statement, it said, “While these events should prompt an emergency response to reduce UK dependence on oil and gas, the government is doubling down on drilling for new oil and gas.”
The group describes the policy of expanding UK oil and gas production as “genocidal.”
Just Stop Oil said Saturday morning’s tunnel activity at Grays and Navigator means the main and emergency access roads to the critical oil terminals are closed.
The activists said Titan Truck Park contains more than 100 oil tankers that service the three major oil terminals in the area.
ExxonMobil UK, one of the country’s largest privately-owned underground oil pipeline distribution networks, said it shut down three of its terminals as a result, and police from at least five forces were deployed to tackle the demonstrations.
The Met arrested 14 activists who broke into a facility at Bedfont Road in Staines, Surrey, while Essex Police detained 13 demonstrators at various sites, and West Midlands Police arrested six people at a terminal in Tyburn, Birmingham.
Police said arrests were made for offences including aggravated trespass, criminal damage, and obstructing the highway.
Extinction Rebellion announced on Friday that it will launch daily “mass participation” protests from London’s Hyde Park from April 9.
The group will be “more disruptive than ever,” said spokesman Andrew Smith.
Another environmental group on Friday claimed its activists have deflated tyres on nearly 2,000 SUVs in the past four weeks.
The group said its supporters have taken action in cities across Britain in an attempt to “make it impossible” to own the vehicles in urban areas.
It describes SUVs as “a climate disaster,” “dangerous,” and “unnecessary.”
PA contributed to this report