A climate campaigner, who has opposed onshore oil and gas projects, has been given three days to leave a tunnel he dug near a new aviation fuel pipeline.
Scott Breen, also known as Digger, was named in an interim High Court injunction, issued on Tuesday (16 August 2022) over protests against Esso’s 105km pipeline from Southampton to London.
The injunction order said he should “remove his person and possessions within 72 hours of service of this order from any and every excavation” he had made in the area of the pipeline.
Notices about the injunction, also issued against persons unknown, were posted this morning.
Scott Breen had previously been named in an injunction aimed at preventing trespass and obstruction at UKOG’s oil production site near Gatwick airport.
His current protest, now in its 19th day, has disrupted work on the pipeline, which will take fuel from Boorley Green in Hampshire to storage at the West London Terminal in Hounslow.
The tunnel was dug on land, near the M25 at Chertsey in Surrey, used by contractors for access to the pipeline work.
|Mr Breen has been asked to leave but has refused.
He said Esso’s owner, ExxonMobil, “continued to plan for growth in climate-destroying fossil fuel use” as the UK experienced record-breaking temperatures. He said:
“Our world is on fire and ExxonMobil is pouring fuel onto the flames.”
The new pipeline will replace an original pipe from 1972. Mr Breen said:
“The current pipeline still has at least twenty years of useful life left, time which could be used to scale back air travel and develop zero carbon alternatives.”
Esso said the new pipeline would help to keep 100 tankers a day off the road. It was a safe, low-impact method of transporting fuel, the company said.
Essos’s court submissions said the injunction had been sought to prevent people from “conspiring to injure” its business “by unlawful means”.
It said activities by some protesters went “far beyond lawful and peaceful protest and give rise to serious health and safety concerns”.
It described Scott Breen, who was not represented at the injunction hearing, as “a known tunneller”.
The judge at the injunction hearing, Mr Justice Eyre, noted that the protest was against a background of “strongly held beliefs and concerns about the effect of air travel” and said he considered the “legitimate public interest in the changes to the climate”.
He said he was “just about persuaded” to order an injunction against Scott Breen.
He concluded that an injunction was “proportionate and necessary” to ensure that Esso was “permitted to carry on its lawful activities”.
Extinction Rebellion South East has said the new pipeline would increase fuel supply to Heathrow airport 40%.
“The multi-million dollar investment in the new pipe will bake in the increased burning of fossil fuels for many decades beyond the timeframe required to take action to prevent climate breakdown.”
“Flying is the fastest way we can burn fossil fuels and produce greenhouse gas emissions. It is unjust that a tiny number of very rich people, just 1%, are emitting half of commercial aviation’s carbon emissions, whilst the poorest suffer and die because of climate breakdown.”
The High Court will reconsider the injunction at another hearing on 7 September 2022.