Number of oil protest arrests rises after campaigners dig tunnels under access roads to terminal. Some routes remain closed as police tackle ongoing situation

By Neil Speight

23rd Aug 2022 | Local News

St Clement's Way was blocked by a protest.
St Clement's Way was blocked by a protest.

THE tally of arrests of JustStopOil supporters who have mounted a series of protests in Thurrock today (Tuesday, 23 August) has risen to 23.

The environmental activists brought traffic to a halt in West Thurrock with their actions, which has included digging and occupying tunnels under access roads.

Up to 30 activists have been in involved in action including own protests, climbing on top of fuel tankers and blocking traffic.

The protesters are an eclectic group, of varying ages and backgrounds.

Catherine Rennie-Nash, 72, is a retired teacher from Kendal, Cumbria. Speaking in Thurrock today she said: 'I am beyond angry about the government's plans to allow more oil and gas projects in the UK.

Retired vicar Mark Coleman is among the JustStopOil protesters in Grays.

"I have no choice but to be in civil resistance. We need to understand that the government isn't protecting us. The cost of living crisis is a choice, sky-high fuel bills is a choice, new oil and gas is a choice. Government is allowing companies to steal our wealth and destroy our future, they are criminals.

Sam Holland, 20, a student from Leeds who also spoke to the media in Grays today, said: "Consenting to more fossil fuels is consenting to the collapse of our food systems.

"It is consenting to the collapse of our societies, and to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Make no mistake - those in power who have planned this will be tried for crimes against humanity."

Officers tackling the disruption in Thurrock have made a total of 23 arrests for a variety of criminal offences following reports of disruption at three locations in the borough.

The discovery of two tunnels resulted in road closures at Saint Clements Way junction of London Road West Thurrock and at Stoneness Road at the A126 roundabout.

At 5pm police said: "We have removed the road closure at Saint Clements Way and a contraflow is in place to minimise disruption to road users. The road closure at Stoneness Road/A126 remains in place for the safety of road users."

Supt John Hallworth said: "We are working quickly to try to resolve the situation. We've already arrested 23 people for various offences.

"But we want to keep everyone safe and keep the roads moving.

The road closure at Stoneness Road.

"Traffic is currently being diverted, so I would ask the public to review their imminent travel plans if they want to travel around Thurrock and try to avoid the area if they can.

"I'd like to thank local drivers, workers, and business for their patience whilst we deal. 

"I want to be clear: policing is not anti-protest but we must intervene where there is a risk to life or where laws are being broken."

"We received reports from just after 6am onwards relating to people causing disruption in St Clements Way, Chafford Hundred railway station, and an industrial site at Askew Farm Lane.

"We continue our presence at a site at Askew Farm Lane where we responded to reports of people at height."

     

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