Three Anglican vicars are amongst a group of 50 people risking their liberty to sit peacefully outside the Kingsbury Oil Terminal holding banners today, in breach of a private injunction designed to protect the profits of the oil industry. This is the first of a series of nonviolent actions in support of Just Stop Oil’s demand that the UK government end new oil and gas projects in the UK to tackle the climate emergency. Click here to see Just Stop Oil’s press release.
Rev Bill White, Rev Mark Coleman and Rev Tim Hewes are amongst those breaking the injunction granted to North Warwickshire Borough Council on 14th April. The injunction gives sweeping powers of arrest to the authorities and effectively outlaws any protest activity near the Kingsbury Terminal, the largest inland oil storage depot in the country.
The Just Stop Oil supporters, many of whom have already taken action this year, are likely to face a charge of contempt of court. If found guilty they could be imprisoned for up to two years.
Rev Bill White, 67, Retired Vicar, Macclesfield, Father of three and Grandpa to four, said:
“You expect a member of the clergy to stand up for truth and justice, and in a way consistent with the values and principles of Jesus. Being faithful to that calling has led me to where I am now. I have studied climate science. I’ve petitioned and written to MPs and ministers. I can’t sit by as the government issues new fossil fuel licences and destroys my family’s future.
“The government threatens to put me in prison, again. But the sense of helplessness felt now is already a personal prison. They threaten unlimited fines, taking away my grandchildren’s inheritance. But in the future we are heading towards that money will have no value for them. I have nothing left to lose and everything to gain, so I’ll take further non-compliant, non-violent action until the government agrees to issue no more fossil fuel licences.”
Rev Mark Coleman, 65, Church of England Priest, Rochdale said:
“Life is precious. I cannot walk by on the other side and see the suffering and destruction caused by oil and gas. Let’s choose life.
I want to say this to our leaders. You have a great responsibility: to serve the people, to seek their well being, to protect the vulnerable. To be like a good Shepherd, rescuing lost sheep. Do not destroy us with new oil.
We are just ordinary people, nothing special, unsure of ourselves. But us humans can do great things and it is clear to me that now is the time for us to say a loud NO to those who want to destroy the future with new oil and gas projects. Please join me and many others in resisting the government’s plans.”
Rev Tim Hewes, 72, retired dentist and Church of England Priest, Oxfordshire said:
The climate catastrophe is unfolding day by day. A third of Pakistan flooded, a heat apocalypse in France, hottest ever temperatures in the UK, wildfires in London, droughts and crop failure throughout the world. We must stop our governments insane and deepening commitment to fossil fuels. Every day counts and I have tried everything else I can think of to get them to change direction.
“I say to the government, you have us on the road to hell and just put your foot down! For God’s sake stop protecting your personal interests and your friends in the oil companies. Develop a powerful sustainable energy programme we can all be proud of.”
“I take this action today, because our planet is on the brink of collapse. I deeply respect Queen Elizabeth and mourn her death. But people are dying from climate chaos every day, Look at Pakistan! There is not a day to loose. We must stop new oil.”
The three clergy are joined by Christian Ruth Jarman. Ruth, 59, Hampshire, a mum of three grown-up children. She said:
“I have been campaigning on climate for more than two decades and as the head of the UN has said, climate change is moving faster than we are. Business as usual is destroying all I love. As a Christian and as a mother I must stand in the way. Not taking part in Just Stop Oil would make me a bystander.
“This country has a choice. To continue granting new fossil fuel licences, and knowingly devastate our children’s future. Or to just stop oil – leave fossil fuels in the ground, insulate and innovate climate solutions here and abroad and safeguard children everywhere. Make the right choice.
“Think of the suffragettes and the civil rights movement. Disruptive civil disobedience has been the right thing to do in the past. We are facing the ultimate injustice and our very survival. Get on the right side of history. Join us.”
All the protestors intend to continue the disruption until the government makes a statement that it will end new oil and gas projects in the UK.