Two Extinction Rebellion activists have denied charges of aggravated trespass at the Horse Hill oil production site in Surrey.
Christopher Smith, 43, of New Malden, and Simon Sinclair, 30 of Brighton, pleaded not guilty during a hearing at Guildford Magistrates Court this afternoon. Their trial is expected later this year.
On 1 June 2020, Extinction Rebellion activists got into the Horse Hill site in a protest against government policy on fossil fuel production.
The Horse Hill site, operated by a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas, got planning permission in September 2019 for 20 years of oil production.
Extinction Rebellion estimated Horse Hill oil production would add 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The organisation described this as “totally incompatible with ensuring a safe future for generations to come”.
Planning permission was granted by Surrey County Council, which a few months earlier had declared a climate emergency.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Smith said:
“The days of oil and gas are over.
“We need to move to sustainable energy sources as soon as possible if we are to avoid an irreversible effect on our climate.
“The UK has some of the best wind resources in the world and moving to 100 per cent renewable energy is entirely feasible, we just need the political willpower to do it.
“To not do so is to commit all future generations to starvation and inevitably extinction. The time to act is now.”
A civil injunction is in force at the Horse Hill site prohibiting trespass. Earlier today, UK Oil & Gas said in its interim accounts:
[On 1 June 2020] “Two individuals gained illegal access to the site and were subsequently arrested by the police and charged with aggravated trespass, a criminal offence.
“The perpetrators were advised by staff and the police that they were also in breach of a High Court injunction but declined to move.
“Dependent upon the outcome of any criminal prosecution, the Company is considering whether to seek committal hearings for the individuals for the blatant injunction breach.”