Update: Climate protester leaves pipeline site after arrest warrant issued

Updated on 3 September 2022: A climate protester has left a site in Surrey that he has occupied for 33 days in protest at Esso’s new jet fuel pipeline.

On Friday afternoon, a High Court judge issued a warrant this afternoon for48-year-old Scott Breen, also known as Digger.

Scott Breen protest. Photo: Used with the owner’s permission

He left the site late on Friday night. In a statement, he said:

“This pipeline represents the gulf between big oil’s business as usual plans and the simple hope people have to live on survivable planet, free from the ravages of runaway climate change. The new 40% wider pipeline will facilitate the massive carbon bomb of increased emissions that an extra 700 flights per day will bring”

Mr Breen is alleged to have breached the terms of an injunction by occupying land near the pipeline route in Surrey since 1 August 2022.

At a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mrs Justice Heather Williams issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

He was ordered to appear at a brief court hearing on Monday next week and then face committal for contempt of court on Tuesday.

Esso’s lawyers have asked the court to jail Mr Breen for six months.

The company, owned by ExxonMobil, was granted an interim injunction against Mr Breen and persons unknown at a hearing last month. It prevented them from obstructing work on the pipeline or blocking access.

The 105km Southampton to London Pipeline Project will carry aviation fuel from Boorley Green in Hampshire to Esso’s storage terminal in Hounslow, near Heathrow Airport.

Mr Breen, who has argued that the pipeline will increase airport capacity, dug a tunnel on land used by pipeline contractors, near the M25 at Chertsey.

He left the tunnel on 16 August to comply with a ruling by a previous judge in the case. Since then, he has occupied an extended pallet tower at the site.

In written submissions, Tim Morshead QC for Esso described Mr Breen as a “known tunneller”. He said the protester had demonstrated a capacity to disturb work in a way that might have “serious implications”.

Mr Breen’s presence has prevented contractors from progressing the pipeline works nearby, Mr Morshead said. Further delay would be averted by Mr Breen’s “effective removal from the site”.

The QC said Mr Breen had allegedly breached the order, “aggravated his contempt by fortifying his presence” and “boasted about it to the press”.

Mr Breen was still at the site during today’s hearing. But his lawyer, Annabel Timan, said he wished to comply with the injunction order and engage with the court. She said he would leave the site with his belongings by Sunday.

Ms Timan said in written submissions that Mr Breen was “motivated by deeply held beliefs”. He did not accept he had breached part of the injunction ordering him to leave “any and every excavation” within 72 hours of its service.

He argued that the pallet tower was not an excavation, she said. He also said that just the first part of the legal notice had been read to him and not the full terms of the order. After leaving the tunnel, he was not aware he would be breach of the injunction by extending the wooden structure, Ms Timan said.

Mr Breen is expected to give evidence at the committal hearing next week.

Reporting at this case was made possible by donations by DrillOrDrop readers

10 replies »

  1. Arrest him, Jail him, get him released, employed and to serve a purpose in this world! The UK is sick of funding dole money to 40/50 year olds, capable of working!

    • And the world is sick, literally, from the corrupt behaviour of the fossil fuel industry and by using fossil fuels. The industry concealed for decades the warning from its own scientists about global warming and followed up with a deliberate campaign to delay the transition from fossil fuels and deny their own science. The recent documentary “Big Oil” laid bare all these facts.

      Then there is the wars and geopolitics associated with fossil fuels, the pollution of air, sea and land.

      When you think of just some of the millions impacted by fossil fuels, like the parents of Ella Kissi-Debrah, the nine year old girl that tragically died from air pollution caused by fossil fuels, the people living in Cancer Alley, the people of the Niger Delta and those right across the world suffering extreme drought, floods and famine as the world’s climate continues to breakdown from global warming. Is it really any wonder people are angry and some protest?

      • The big lie is that the world is transitioning! Haha… oil and gas price ever higher, and the energy crisis proves that the renewables are doing Nothing to facilitate sustainable energy! Heat or Eat!!
        You are saying the developing world cannot have what we have? You are a little crazy!!
        The earth has had many forms in its estimated 4.53 billion years!! Waken Up!

      • Some protest? Via plastic, KatT.

        You are part of the problem, KatT, not part of the solution. You are creating the demand, don’t blame the supplier for what you require, so they supply.

        How about the billions who have had their life expectancy extended-thanks to fossil fuel, and are grateful for that? If I was a betting man, I would bet more people are angry about those who believe their consumption is more saintly than that of their fellow man.

        Many are concerned about their personal health for this coming year, as they don’t have the personal wealth to support their personal health. Whilst others, Jono, use their personal wealth to try and interfere with them having a little more security, or relaxation. I wouldn’t expect too much friendly support for that sort of activity from those suffering the consequences.

        • How long does the National Grid think it will take to switch to renewable energy? (quote)

          It’s important to remember that the aim is not for renewables to be our sole provider of energy, but they will play a major part in the energy mix alongside other clean and green energy sources.

          This said, renewable energy has grown ten-fold since 2004 and the UK looks on track to continue to increase renewable generation – with renewable energy sources making up 42.8% of the UK’s total electricity generation between October and December 2021.

          It’s anticipated that the UK’s renewable capacity will increase dramatically over the next decade. Plans are already in action to increase offshore wind’s output from 11 GW to 50 GW by 2030 – helped by a £200 million government cash injection and financial incentives. Meanwhile, solar capacity could grow five-fold from 14 GW to roughly 70 GW in the same period.

          Combine renewables with other low-carbon electricity sources, such as nuclear (16%), and it indicates that our green infrastructure is heading in the right direction to be capable of reaching the government’s 2035 target; and ultimately reaching net zero in the specified time frames.

          Note no mention of uncoventiohal gas onshore here.

  2. “ The earth has had many forms in its estimated 4.53 billion years!! Waken Up! (sic)”.
    You seem to be saying, Eli-Goth, (but do correct me if I’ve got it wrong), that we should just accept this process of extinction, readying ourselves for a”new form.”
    Seems a trifle extreme when we know we can do something about it if our leaders and we ourselves wake up, but sooner rather than later.
    The increased demand for FFs does not prove that the world is not transitioning, Eli-Goth. What it does prove is that we are too slow in transitioning. This is because the FF industry is hanging on and because cowardly or venal governments continue to subsidise, supported by those prepared to sacrifice the planet for short term gain.
    Our increased need for energy means we have to use what is available until those responsible see the light. It does not imply re-investment in that which has caused our ills.
    And meanwhile…….

  3. Well done digger, you did what we all felt like doing, ok not all, I mean there are people who invest in aviation and other climate destroying things that couldn’t give two hoots about other lives on this planet, but all the consciencious people I am sure are in awe of your efforts and putting your body on the line. We need to be flying less… not more. We could be seeing electric or hydrogen aircraft taking over in the next few years so these antiquated things that rely on setting fire to oil to propel themselves will not require more fuel transmission capacity.

  4. Here I sit, cradled by the arms of a certain circular Motorway, listening to the sounds of the electricity pylons, sitting close by a beautiful woodland area…

    I am dreaming of a man, who like James Brown before him, put the liberty of others before his own, and held out for a month under ground and a further 4 days in a pallet tower above.

    Calling out Exxon, Shell and the other FF giants
    Calling out to MPs and Lords in Westminster.
    Calling out to any one who will listen.

    Shared to the internet through the fingers of volunteers, who, fortified by his example, may one day take their own stand Feel the passion to lock on to something, make their voice heard and say No Third Runway. Stop HS2 Spend our hard earned money on Free School meals, Insulate the houses of the needy and give back to Mother Earth. We have to protect our beloved England 🌏

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