Just Stop Oil – who are they and what’s the risk?
Just Stop Oil comprises several activist groups which have come together to protest at the continued use of fossil fuels.
What do they want?
They want the UK Government to stop all new licences for exploration and production of fossil fuels, as well as greater investment in renewable energy and the provision of free public transport for all.
In the UK, these groups include Extinction Rebellion, members of whom the National Eviction Team has removed from many a protester site.
They have a presence in many counties and claim to have 3,000 people that they can mobilise for the new campaign, which is based on non-violent protest and civil disobedience, which they claim has been successfully used by Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion. Some of our agents may not fully agree, in their experience, that there has been a complete absence of violence from the latter.
A number of Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested in 2022, with some sent to prison. Arrests have been for actions such as the protests on M25 gantries and the National Gallery defacement of Constable’s Haywain and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Since 1st April 2022, there have been 2,000 arrests and 24 protesters are currently in prison, according to the Just Stop Oil website.
What is the risk to your business?
If you are in one of the sectors being targeted by Just Stop Oil, you may be at risk of protesters on your site.
If you are neighbours to a business in a high-risk sector, you may also be at risk of disruption, especially if you share access routes.
Will the Police help?
If the protest is on private land, they are not permitted to remove the protesters. It has to be done under a High Court writ of possession by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), such as High Court Enforcement Group (of which the National Eviction Team is part). It can also be carried out at common law, but the client should obtain legal advice before acting. HCE Group can act as agents for the landowner in such circumstances.
If the protest is on national infrastructure, then the Police are permitted to help, provided they have the resources at that moment in time and also the specialist teams and equipment.
For example, removing protesters from motorway gantries must be undertaken by persons trained, equipped, experienced and insured in the safe removal of persons at height: this is not a rescue operation because the protesters will often physically resist their removal, for example by the use of lock-on devices. These experts may not be readily available at short notice and some Forces may not have their own teams.
What can you do to mitigate risk?
We recommend preparing a plan for protesters – whether Just Stop Oil or any other activist groups – and ensure that you are prepared should such an eventuality arise. Time is often of the essence to prevent entrenchment and damage, so having your plans ready in advance can make a huge difference.
If you would like some advice on what to consider and include in your planning, or already have protesters on site that need evicting, please get in touch.