Extinction Rebellion protesters break into UK’s biggest oil refinery and lock themselves to 50ft silos

Activists, including two Team GB Olympians, cut site’s electric fences and chained themselves to various structures at the Hampshire base

Extinction Rebellion protesters break into UK’s biggest oil refinery and lock themselves to 50ft silos
Extinction Rebellion protesters break into UK's biggest oil refinery and lock themselves to 50ft silos
Extinction Rebellion protesters break into UK’s biggest oil refinery and lock themselves to 50ft silos CREDIT: Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion protesters have broken into the UK’s largest oil refinery and scaled two 50ft silos where they have locked themselves to the structures. 

Early on Thursday morning, 15 activists cut the site’s electric perimeter fences and chained themselves to various structures at the ExxonMobil base in Hampshire. 

Some have scaled giant silos and unfurled two banners that proclaim: “Climate Emergency” and “No Future in Fossil Fuels”.

Among the protesters are British Olympians Laura Baldwin and Etienne Stott, who chained to a pink boat – The Beverley Geronimo – on a trailer, blockading the main entrance to the site.

The environmental group have claimed to have “shut down” the plant, posting a photograph of the pink vessel.

An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: “Just three days before the COP26 Climate Summit, they are demanding that the UK Government listens to the people and stops all fossil fuel investments now. 

“The campaigners also condemn ExxonMobil’s massive expansion of its diesel production facilities at Fawley, despite the International Energy Agency (IEA) warning that all new fossil fuel developments must stop this year to keep the world within safe limits of global heating and meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“ExxonMobil has known the devastating effects of fossil fuel production on the environment for over 40 years, but instead of acting responsibly on that knowledge, they’ve spent tens of millions funding climate denial and misinformation and obstructing a transition to cleaner energy sources.

“Only decarbonisation of our economies will limit the scale of death, destruction and mass extinction that climate change will bring in decades to come, the effects of which are already being felt around the world. 

“Extinction Rebellion’s immediate demand to Government is simple – stop all fossil fuel investment now.”

The protest, in pictures

The activists say they broke in by cutting electric fences whilst it was still dark
The activists say they broke in by cutting electric fences whilst it was still dark CREDIT: Extinction Rebellion
Activists climbing the ladders of the silo at the oil refinery
Activists climbing the ladders of the silo at the oil refinery CREDIT: Extinction Rebellion
Protesters on top of the oil silo
Protesters on top of the oil silo CREDIT: Extinction Rebellion

Team GB Olympians join the protest

Two Team GB Olympians are standing side-by-side with Extinction Rebellion protesters. 

Sailor Laura Baldwin represented Team GB in the 2004 Athens Olympics before going on to coach in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games.

Laura Baldwin competing for Team GB in the 2004 Athens Games
Laura Baldwin competing for Team GB in the 2004 Athens Games CREDIT: Menahem Kahana/AFP

Slalom canoeist Etienne Stott, 42, was an Olympic gold medallist at London 2012. 

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to canoeing.

Timothy Baillie and Etienne Stott (right) of Great Britain picking up a silver medal in the 2013 Canoe Slalom World Cup, a year after Stott won gold at London 2012
Timothy Baillie and Etienne Stott (right) of Great Britain picking up a silver medal in the 2013 Canoe Slalom World Cup, a year after Stott won gold at London 2012 CREDIT: Thomas Lohnes/Getty

Ms Baldwin said: “I am a deeply protective mother, moved to take direct action in a desperate bid to force this suicidal system to change in time to limit the climate crisis worsening and slipping past the point of no return. 

“Watching the news this summer was horrifying and heartbreaking, witnessing catastrophic climate impacts killing people on every continent of the globe.”

Ettienne Stott and Laura Baldwin on top of the pink boat
Ettienne Stott and Laura Baldwin on top of the pink boat CREDIT: Stuart Martin

Mr Stott added: “I think it’s totally wrong that oil companies continue to put their profits ahead of everyone’s right to a future on a living planet. 

“We need our government to rein in these rogue companies as a matter of urgency and show to the world ahead of COP26 that the UK is prepared to take a genuine leadership position.”

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