MP slams activists disrupting fuel supplies and urges 'more robust' policing

Esso Purfleet, London Road, Purfleet.Fuel protest at Purfleet.

Essex Police has made more than 330 arrests since the protests began - Credit: Essex Police

A Suffolk MP has slammed the "selfish behaviour" of climate change activists who have disrupted fuel supplies by blocking oil terminals. 

Tom Hunt, Ipswich MP, has called for the police to be "more robust" with the protesters from Extinction Rebellion offshoot group Just Stop Oil. 

The group said it had disrupted fuel supplies from terminals in Essex, Hertfordshire and Warwickshire - causing shortages at petrol stations throughout the UK. 

A group of more than 20 protesters arrived at Exolum Storage in Grays on Sunday and positioned themselves in a dangerous position, Essex Police said. 

Since the protests began on April 1, officers in Essex have made 356 arrests. 

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, has criticised the behaviour of climate change activists - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Speaking today, Mr Hunt said: "I know many will have experienced difficulties trying to get their hands on petrol and diesel over the past few days.

"This morning it wasn't until I visited the sixth petrol station that I was able to get some.

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"The situation in Ipswich seems to be slightly better than in rural Suffolk which I was driving through this morning.

"This is largely linked to the selfish behaviour of activists linked to Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil who have been holding up fuel supplies and blocking crucial depots in the region.

"I have spoken before about how I think the police need to be much more robust with these activists. It's why I have repeatedly voted for the Police and Crime Bill in the face of strong opposition from the Labour Party.

"The activists in question must not be allowed to do this and to get away with it. I know a number have been arrested but in my view they should immediately be rounded up and severely punished for the immense disruption they are causing.

Essex Police has made more than 350 arrests since the protests began

Essex Police has made more than 350 arrests since the protests began - Credit: Essex Police

"They should not be allowed to cause the kind of disruption and chaos they've caused over the past week. Whether they are blocking key bridges in London or targeting petrol depots in East Anglia they should be dealt with very harshly in my view.

"Across the county there will be vulnerable people who are dependent on a carer who drives who could be waiting in discomfort. There will be people who haven't been able to get to work or who have missed important meetings. The list goes on. Enough is enough."

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said the ou

Prema Fairburn-Dorai said she has had staff ringing in worried about a lack of fuel - Credit: Archant

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chair of Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers (SAICP), which represents home carers in the county, said carers are "panicking". 

"There have been issues in domiciliary care," she said. "My company is domiciliary care so I've had lots of staff ring in to say they can't get hold of diesel in particular, and they are panicking because they don't know how they are going to finish their visits for the day. 

"They do a lot of visits a day, anything between 12 and 15 going from house to house, and it's not short distances. 

"Over the weekend, one or two said they couldn't go out to finish their run because they had run out of fuel. Luckily, we have a couple of pool cars that had some fuel which they were able to use but of course, they are now running out of fuel. 

"There are some fuel stations that have got diesel available but it's a case of us trying to find out who has got it and then letting our carers know. 

"It adds to their stress and adds to their journeys too, having to search for a station that's actually got diesel to sell.

"I haven't got a view on their protests as such, but they are making it very difficult for essential services, not just us in the social care industry, it's health, it's car breakdown services, everything. It's not really very fair."

Speaking on Sunday, Assistant Chief Constable Glen Pavelin, from Essex Police, said: “We’ve been really clear with the protesters.

"Their acts of criminality on site are not only illegal, but they are continuing to put themselves and our officers at real risk of harm and that is unacceptable.

“These protests continue to impact the people of Essex and beyond."