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Greenpeace activists arrested after ending oil protest at Sunak’s mansion

August 4, 2023

Black fabric draped on Yorkshire home in response to PM’s pledge to ‘max out’ UK oil and gas reserves

Five Greenpeace activists have been arrested after ending their rooftop protest at Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire mansion, which they mounted to “drive home the dangerous consequences of a new drilling frenzy”.

The campaigners draped the prime minister’s Grade II-listed manor house with an oil-black fabric on Thursday morning.

Police said they were managing the situation after being called to the home in Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton, at about 8am after the activists climbed on to roof while Sunak, his wife and daughters were on holiday in California.

The group came down at about 1.15pm and were spoken to by officers before being driven away in police vans.

The deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, left in charge of the country in Sunak’s absence, told the protesters to “stop the stupid stunts”.

A former deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police claimed it was a “major breach of security”, as he called for an “investigation into how this has been allowed to happen”.

After reaching the top of the house using ladders and climbing ropes at about 6am, activists unfolded 200 sq metres of fabric to cover a whole side of the property. Two other activists unfurled a banner stating: “Rishi Sunak – Oil Profits or Our Future?” across the grass in front of the house.

Talking outside the property on Thursday, the Greenpeace campaigner Philip Evans said the activists had made sure the prime minister’s family were not going to be at home before carrying out the protest, which is a response to Sunak saying he would “max out” oil and gas in the North Sea.

Evans said the group had knocked on the door when they arrived and announced: “This is a peaceful protest.” He said there was no answer.

It was not intrusive to target someone’s home when they were away, said Evans: “This is the prime minister. He is the one that was standing in Scotland going to drill for every last drop of oil while the world is burning. He is personally responsible for that decision and we’re all going to be paying a high price if he goes through with it. It is personal.”

This week the prime minister pledged to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves as he announced more than 100 new licences for North Sea drilling, which experts said could be catastrophic for the climate. But in 2021, the International Energy Agency said there could be no new oil, gas and coal developments if the world was to reach net zero by 2050.

Greenpeace said the protest aimed to stop Sunak from approving Rosebank, the biggest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea, the operations of which would be enoughto exceed the UK’s carbon budgets.


Peter Walker, a former deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, said the stunt was a major breach of security.

The retired officer told LBC he was “absolutely astonished” that Greenpeace had managed to gain access. “This time it happens to be Greenpeace. What if it had been a terrorist organisation leaving an explosive device?” he asked.

Calling for an investigation into what had happened, Walker said: “I really think this is a major failing, and it grieves me to say that because it is my former police force.”

A No 10 source said: “We make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security, using the resources we have here at home so we are never reliant on aggressors like [Vladimir] Putin for our energy. We are also investing in renewables and our approach supports 1,000s of British jobs.”

Speaking on a visit to Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool, Dowden said: “I think what most people would say is: ‘Can you stop the stupid stunts?’ Actually what they want to see from government is action.

“That’s what you’re seeing here today – the world’s largest offshore windfarm being built right here, creating jobs.

“But at the same time we’re going to need in the coming decades oil and gas as part of our energy mix. The question is do we produce it here, where we get more tax, we create more jobs, or do we do what the Labour [party] and others say, which is: ‘No more investment in our North Sea oil and gas.’”


(The Guardian UK)




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