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Extinction Rebellion protesters block entrance to Fawley Refinery terminal to protest £80m diesel expansion

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CLIMATE activists dressed as the Grim Reaper blocked the entrance to ExxonMobil’s Hythe Terminal at Fawley Refinery.

The protesters, from Extinction Rebellion, also mounted two-metre high steel tripods, with one dressed as an executive in a faceless mask pumping fake blood from an oil barrel, while others enacted a die-in to the beat of a lone drum.

They were protesting against New Forest District Council's approved plans for a new £800m diesel plant expansion at the refinery – which it had been claimed will create and protect more than 200 jobs.

Extinction Rebellion protesters at Fawley
Extinction Rebellion protesters at Fawley

They are also against the laying of 90km worth of new, larger bore pipeline from Southampton to London which will supply Heathrow and other airports. It is replacing a pipeline installed in 1972.

Extinction Rebellion has further demanded the government stops all new fossil fuel investment immediately, and the Fawley protest comes ahead of its next major rebellion beginning in London on Monday.

It also comes in the wake of a UN scientific report which declared a "Code Red for Planet Earth" and warned of extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade. But it said a catastrophe can be avoided "if the world acts fast".

The activists blocked off a terminal at the refinery
The activists blocked off a terminal at the refinery

One XR activist James Knapp (55) and a photographer from Dorking, said: "ExxonMobil’s expansion of production at Fawley is another nail in our coffin, we call on the government to act now to stop all new investment in fossil fuels."

Jon Kennedy, 42, a mechanical design engineer from Brighton, said: "The impacts of just 1.1 degrees' increased heat are all around us – from the droughts that bring massive forest fires to the increased evaporation that’s resulting in fatal flooding.

"These impacts are coming faster than predicted, yet worse is to come and soon it could be beyond human control to set limits on heating as more climate feedback loops are triggered."

Venetia Carter, 57, a tutor from Brighton, added: "Our governments have been complicit in their failure to transition to renewables. They blame ‘demand’ for fossil fuels, as if this isn’t a result of their own energy and transport policies."

The Fawley expansion project includes building a pair of 50-metre-high chimneys and will expand "ultra-low" sulphur diesel production at the facility by almost 45% – around 38,000 barrels a day. The proposed location is about 500 metres from the nearest homes.

The application came from global petrochemicals giant ExxonMobil, whose subsidiary Esso runs the refinery, the biggest in the UK. It said the new plant would reduce the UK’s reliance on imported diesel.

The protest ended at around 4.10pm yesterday (Thursday).

A spokesperson for the refinery said: "ExxonMobil respects the right of people to protest peacefully and to express their opinions. Our primary concern is for the safety of our staff and property, our neighbours and the protesters themselves.

"We worked closely with the police to monitor the situation and minimise the inconvenience to our staff and our neighbouring communities."

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