Surrey County Council interrupted its meeting today when campaigners, calling for a halt to oil drilling, began singing the hit song by The Police Every Breath You Take.
The campaigners from Surrey Extinction Rebellion groups had presented a letter which also called on the council to declare a climate emergency and divest the pension fund from the fossil fuel industry.
Outside the meeting in Kingston-upon-Thames, they had urged councillors to take urgent action.
The council leader, Tim Oliver, had told the meeting he was setting up a working party to develop an environmental charter to include climate change concerns.
“As a county council we are clear as to our responsibility to our environment.
“This group will also review the causes of traffic congestion which we know has a significant impact on air quality.
“I’m sure they will want to engage extensively with external organisations as they draw up a deliverable charter. Let’s see what we can do together to make a positive impact in this area.”
But councillors moved to another room after campaigners sang “I’ll be watching you” in protest at what they said was the lack of action on climate change.
In their letter, the groups criticised the council’s refusal to declare what it said was a meaningful climate emergency and the direct pension fund investment of £145m in the oil industry, despite a three-year campaign for divestment.
On planning permissions granted by the council for onshore oil extraction, the letter said this was:
“in defiance of public opinion, damaging climate and health, spoiling Surrey’s beautiful countryside and locking us in to decades of carbon emissions.”
The letter added:
“These policies represent a denial of the state of emergency and undermine the efforts made by other authorities and ordinary citizens to effect change. This cannot continue.”