Vehicles visiting the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey were delayed for a second day by slow walking protests by environmental campaigners.
Yesterday, a similar protest delayed four vehicles at the site (DrillOrDrop report).
Today, local activists from the climate campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, said they attempted to slow walk a tanker heading for the site near Horley at about 8am.
They said the driver gained entry via another route but it was held within the facility until about 3pm by protesters outside the main gate. They then slow walked it, as planned, to the junction of Horse Hill and Reigate Road, a spokesperson said.
The action was described by the protesters as a “symbolic protest against the continued expansion of fossil fuel development at the site in the midst of a climate emergency”.
The Horse Hill site, operated by a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas plc, received planning permission in September 2019 for 20 years of oil production. The consent, granted by Surrey County Council, will be challenged at the Court of Appeal later this year. Two months before consent was granted, Surrey declared a climate emergency.
An Extinction Rebellion member from Dorking who was at today’s protest said:
“As our planet gets hotter and hotter, overwhelmingly caused by the way we live our lives foolishly reliant on the burning of fossil fuels to produce our energy, despite the ready availability of many clean and cheaper alternatives; solar, wind, hydro, tidal, thermal.
“So, what do we do? Our local councils issue licenses to search for more fossil fuels, supported and encouraged by central government. That is why I cannot and will not let this administration lead me quietly and obediently to extinction, and why I am at this demonstration at Horse Hill.”
The Reverend Helen Burnett, a Reigate resident and Extinction Rebellion member, holds monthly multi-faith services at the Horse Hill gate. She said:
“The continued extraction of shale oil at Horse Hill is an aberration which flies in the face of the Declaration of a Climate Emergency at both local and national level.
“We must act to highlight the hypocrisy of granting permission for fossil fuel extraction in the middle of a global climate emergency – an emergency being ignored in leafy Surrey at the expense of those already dying in climate vulnerable communities. Those deaths and the destruction of the climate are the price being paid for the profit others seek by drilling for oil.
“To slow walk in front of lorries is a brave act in the face of the gallop which propels us towards the cliff edge of extinction.
“We will continue to do all we can to bring attention to the extractivism of UKOG here at Horse Hill, by slow walking, by holding our ground in the monthly vigil in front of the gates, standing literally and metaphorically in the way of this ‘profit before planet’ project.”
At the council meeting which approved oil production at Horse Hill, UK Oil & Gas plc described oil production as “sustainable development”.
The company’s chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said the national target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 did not mean “a phase out of oil”.
He said oil was used in aviation and feedstocks for items including computers, phones, appliances and wind turbines. He said:
A world without these products is neither desirable or sensible.