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On Saturday the 16th October, hundreds of climate activists blockaded the access road to Coryton oil refinery in Essex. This was more than just a symbolic direct action – it directly impacted on the oil system. More than 50 tankers were prevented from leaving the site, that’s about 375,000 gallons of fuel.
The day started with 3 blocs meeting in locations around central London, all waiting in anticipation and ready to occupy, build, blockade and reclaim space. As the masses travelled further out of central London, with less than happy police in tow, the energy was mounting. A large road blockade to the Shell Havens Oil Site further down the road consisted of beautiful bamboo tripods, some suitably creative banners and costumes and a personal highlight – the Stilt Bloc.
Police were forced to close the road as further on 12 female activists handcuffed themselves to vehicles deliberately blocking the way for fuel tankers. The day was part of a global week of action against the fossil fuel industry. As the UK’s biggest refinery, Coryton is responsible for 22% of the national forecourt demand. Our lives have become so saturated with oil that unless drastic changes are made, we won’t stand a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The Crude Awakening highlighted the failure of governments to have the guts to make the necessary changes; as usual, profits are put before people. Finding new oil reserves is the last thing we need and yet oil companies, hand in hand with governments, continue scouring the planet for the last few drops of dirty oil.
So it’s about time we stopped oil companies trampling the rights of local communities, devastating local environments and pushing us all closer towards tipping points. Instead we need to start finding alternative solutions and learning skills for a post-oil future.