Dozen arrested and boats seized during pollution protest

By Douglas Barrie and Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·4 min read

A dozen climate activists have been arrested and items including two sailing boats seized in a blockade of the Ineos refinery at Grangemouth.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland claims the company is Scotland’s biggest climate polluter and staged the 12-hour stunt on Friday as part of a programme of action.

Small groups of no more than six people locked themselves together at the gates with the boats used to block the refinery and headquarters’ entrances.

In a statement through the group, one activist said: “I get really angry and upset when I think about the fact that our governments aren’t doing enough to tackle the climate emergency.

“They have hijacked the meaning of emergency, yet continue to do nothing.

“I am really afraid of what the future holds for my children, so I just decided to stand up and do something about it.”

When arrested, the woman said “I am not the criminal, Jim Ratcliffe is” – referring to the Ineos chief executive.

Earlier on Friday, the firm said the site had been operating normally.

A demonstration was also due to take place outside the Ineos headquarters in London.

Activists blocking the gates with boats
Activists blocking the gates with boats (Extinction Rebellion Scotland/PA)

An Ineos spokesman previously said: “Ineos products are used in a wide range of everyday and essential items, currently protecting frontline healthcare professionals and their patients, whether through the use of PPE or the application of medicines to treat the effects of the pandemic and the development of antiviral drugs. The use of plastics has been invaluable during these unprecedented times.

“Our sites continue to explore ways to reduce our emissions. At the end of September, Ineos announced the largest ever purchase contract of wind energy for heavy industry in Belgium.

“The deal will reduce annual emissions by 115,000 tonnes of CO2 each year starting from next year – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road each year.

“As more and more energy-intensive manufacturing industries in Scotland close down, then it is inevitable that those which the Scottish economy so heavily rely on will stand out above the rest in terms of their emissions.

“Observers should be left in no doubt: manufacturing products in the UK we rely on every day, every week, every year reduces carbon footprint from importing such items, ensures compliance with the strictest environmental and safety standards and delivers carbon savings through their applications, ‘light-weighting’ vehicles, components for wind turbines and so on.

“We do our utmost to do this as efficiently (and environmentally responsibly) as possible – because this is how we will remain in business.”

Activist
One activist demonstrating outside the Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth (Jane Barlow/PA)

Despite the group saying said Covid-19 safety precautions were taken, GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith criticised the action.

He said: “Extinction Rebellion look detached from the reality and struggles of working people across Scotland today.

“We are in the middle of a public health crisis and we are about to be hit by the biggest jobs crisis in a generation.

“This comes in the same week where Scotland has been caught again exporting the jobs of the future in offshore wind manufacturing, while our workhorse industries like energy and aviation are facing decimation.

“Our economy is in dire straits and no-one in Scottish politics has a credible plan for jobs to aid our post-Covid recovery, but they seem willing to indulge Extinction Rebellion.

“Extinction Rebellion claim they want to save the planet but you have to ask what planet they are on when they are intent on causing so much disruption to the lives of hard-working people.

“They are looking and acting like part of the problem, not the solution.”

Extinction Rebellion Scotland Grangemouth protest
GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith criticised the action (Jane Barlow/PA)

Superintendent Simon Jeacocke said: “At around 6.30am on Friday, a number of individuals began a demonstration and road blockade at the Ineos petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth.

“Officers quickly responded to the scene and engaged with those in attendance, who confirmed their intention to hold a peaceful protest.

“An agreement was reached to allow the demonstration to take place until 2pm, at which time all demonstrators were required to leave the area.

“A full traffic management plan was set up to allow the continued flow of traffic in and out of the facility and to minimise disruption to the public.

“At 2pm, the group informed police that they did not wish to leave the area and as a result, 12 people have been arrested. In addition, two sailing boats and various other items used to create the roadblock have been seized.

“Reports will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal and the road will be fully reopened in due course.”