Priti Patel blasts 'selfish' petrol protests

Priti Patel blasts ‘selfish’ petrol protests: As fuel blockades threaten fresh misery over Easter getaway, Home Secretary hits out at eco-zealouts for making life miserable for ‘hard-working people’

  • Home Secretary branded activists ‘fanatical, and frankly dangerous’
  • Words came on the tenth day of the hugely disruptive protests 
  • Protesters have been holding up fuel supplies by targeting three crucial depots
  • And yesterday protesters also blocked two central London bridges  

Priti Patel last night condemned ‘selfish’ eco-zealots inflicting fuel shortages on motorists.

On the tenth day of the hugely disruptive protests, the Home Secretary branded the activists ‘fanatical, and frankly dangerous’.

They have been holding up fuel supplies by targeting three crucial depots in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.

And yesterday protesters also blocked two central London bridges in a series of ‘exceptionally dangerous’ stunts.

The mayhem comes ahead of a record 21.5million motorists preparing to take to the roads this coming Easter weekend.

On the tenth day of the hugely disruptive protests, the Home Secretary branded the activists ‘fanatical, and frankly dangerous’

A furious Miss Patel said: ‘Hard-working people across our country are seeing their lives brought to a standstill by selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous so-called activists.

‘Keir Starmer’s Labour Party repeatedly voted against our proposals that would have given the police extra powers to deal with this eco mob. The police have my full backing in doing everything necessary to address this public nuisance.’

In a sign of the havoc, nearly a third of drivers surveyed in the Midlands and the South East reported a lack of fuel at forecourts. Diesel was in especially short supply.

Ministers had planned to introduce new powers to help police tackle eco-protesters but the measures were blocked in the House of Lords in January.

At the time, Miss Patel accused Labour of siding with ‘vandals and thugs’.

Proposed measures had included an offence of ‘locking on’ in a bid to stop protesters resorting to the common tactic of chaining themselves to buildings and vehicles. 

New stop and search powers were also proposed to allow police to detain protesters arriving carrying bike locks and other equipment designed to make themselves difficult to remove.

Pictured: Protesters block the Esso West oil facility near Heathrow Airport 

Ministers are expected to try to revive the measures in the next Queen’s Speech.

Yesterday the Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion fanatics brought chaos to fuel depots. At the Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire they claimed to have dug a tunnel under a tanker route in a bid to block deliveries to forecourts.

Up to 40 campaigners then locked themselves to the gates of the Buncefield terminal in Hertfordshire. This was followed by further action at the Exolum storage terminal in Grays, Essex.

Pictured: Queues at the Tesco petrol station in Ely this morning before it ran out of fuel again

The group has vowed to continue until ministers agree to stop all new fossil fuel investments. On Lambeth Bridge, hundreds of protesters prevented cars and buses from using the key route linking north and south London.

The protest had a festival atmosphere, with speakers playing dance music and a stall handing out pasta and falafel. The activists sat down and refused to move for hours. However they allowed ambulances to pass.

A samba band joined the protesters blocking cars and buses on Vauxhall Bridge.

The Metropolitan Police reopened both London bridges by 8pm last night, making 38 arrests. Essex Police said the depot protest tactics were becoming ‘exceptionally dangerous’ and putting activists and officers at ‘unacceptable’ risk of harm.

The group has vowed to continue until ministers agree to stop all new fossil fuel investments. On Lambeth Bridge (pictured), hundreds of protesters prevented cars and buses from using the key route linking north and south London

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Pavelin said: ‘We cannot stand by while criminal acts are being committed, and lives are being put at risk, in the name of protest.’

The force has made 338 arrests since the protests began on April 1.

Warwickshire Police has detained 180 people and its assistant chief constable, Ben Smith, said: ‘While we will always recognise and respect the public’s right to peaceful protest, we will take action against anyone who breaks the law or causes significant impact on the local community.’ 

A spokesman for the UK Petroleum Industry Association said: ‘The industry is working hard to ensure fuels are being delivered as quickly as possible.’

The protest had a festival atmosphere, with speakers playing dance music and a stall handing out pasta and falafel. The activists sat down and refused to move for hours. However they allowed ambulances to pass. Pictured: Activists on Lambeth Bridge 

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