Eco protesters blockaded a major oil terminal near Heathrow Airport in west London on Friday morning, as part of a nationwide campaign calling on the UK government to halt new oil and gas projects.
Hundreds of demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil converged on 10 oil terminals across England in action intended to cause chaos to businesses.
The Esso West Terminal near Heathrow was among sites targeted by activists in the early hours of Friday. There were no immediate reports of disruption to travellers heading to and from the airport.
At another blockade at Navigator Terminals Thames in Grays, Essex, more than 30 campaigners climbed on top of tankers, Just Stop Oil said. A similar protest was staged at nearby Inter Terminals UK.
Essex Police said they had made six arrests “so far”.
The group said it had targeted “10 critical oil terminals” with support from Extinction Rebellion. Other targets of protests include Hamble Terminals in Southampton, Hythe Terminal in Fawley, Hampshire, and Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire — all in southern England.
Esso Birmingham Terminal in Birmingham, West Midlands, was also targeted. West Midlands Police said: “We are working to deal with this as quickly as possible.”
Photos on social media showed protesters wearing hi-vis attire sitting next to barrels daubed with the slogan, “End fossil fuels now”.
Extinction Rebellion have accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of failing to “respond to our demands to shut down the fossil fuel economy” and said big oil companies were making money “while hitting us with [the] cost-of-living crisis.”
Just Stop Oil issued demands that ministers scale back oil and gas production and urged them to help people affected by the rising cost of living in the UK.
“Ordinary people can no longer afford oil and gas, it’s time to just stop oil,” the group said.
ExxonMobil UK confirmed three fuel terminals in Hythe, in the south-east, west London and Birmingham had been targeted by protesters.
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest, our priority is the safety of our people, our neighbours, the protesters and our operations,” the company said on Twitter.
“We are working with the police to ensure that safety is maintained.”
The firm said it had temporarily suspended operations at the locations mentioned, but its other terminals at Purfleet, in the south-east, and Avonmouth, in the south-west, were not affected.
Just Stop Oil supporters have in recent weeks disrupted Premier League football matches by running on to the pitch and attaching themselves to the goalposts.