Lib Dem leader backs arrest of protesters who blocked fuel depot in Hemel Hempstead

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said the police has his “full support” in arresting Just Stop Oil protesters who have blocked a fuel depot in Hemel Hempstead.

By Matthew Smith, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 5:35 pm
Sir Ed Davey backed the arrests

Campaigners from the action group have targeted Buncefield Oil Terminal in Hemel Hempstead, as well as 10 other depots across the UK.

Downing Street and the Labour Party have both condemned the action, including calling for injuctions, and now the Liberal Democrats have joined the calls to end the protests.

Mr Davey made the comments while appearing in Watford, and said he supported the police in making arrests and could not back the method or demands of the campaigners. Campaigners, who have carried out 11 days of actions, have said they want the government to commit to stopping any new fossil fuel projects.

Sign up to our daily Hemel Today newsletter

While he agreed with cracking down on the “unlawful” protest, the Lib Dem leader expressed concern the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill could affect how protests more widely are policed.

He said: “The police were right to make those arrests. This is an unlawful protest, that’s against the law, and the police have our full support to deal with these protesters.

“What it does show though is that the Tories wanting to take extra powers is unnecessary. Priti Patel wants to ban lawful protests [but] in Buncefield it was an unlawful protest. So that just proves that the Conservatives tried to make out they’re being tough on protests when they’re not at all. [The new bill is] being tough on people who are going about it in a legal way.”

Read More

Read More
17 arrested after protest at Hemel Hempstead oil depot

When asked if he had any sympathy with the goals of the campaign group, he said the Liberal Democrats wanted to move away from oil and gas, but did not call for an immediate end to issuing new licences for offshore oil and gas exploration.

The party leader, who served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the coalition government, said renewable energy was the future and the government should do more to move away from fossil fuels.

Mr Davey said: “There are plenty of people, including Liberal Democrats, who are making the argument for renewable energy, and from weaning our economies off oil, gas and fossil fuels that damage our environment and are proving very expensive.

“What I did as Secretary of State, against the Tories who tried to stop me, we quadrupled Britain’s renewable power, we made Britain a world leader in offshore wind. It’s really good that Liberal Democrats did that, as well as insulating a million homes, because if we hadn’t done that we’d be even more exposed to these high oil and gas prices and to people like President Putin. Now we’ve shown that renewable energy is the cheapest form, cheaper than gas and oil, we believe we should do more of it – much, much more of it.

“The great thing about it, unlike gas exploration or nuclear power stations, you can build renewable power plants much more quickly. Renewable power is the future, you can do it quick, you can do it cheap, it’s independent, secure, and it helps tackle climate change.”