Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Fuel protesters target oil refinery

A 'go slow' fuel protest on the M60 in Manchester

Fuel price protesters have staged a demonstration outside one of Britain's biggest oil refineries.

Around 100 vehicles took part in a go-slow on motorway routes in North Wales and the North West of England before converging on the giant refinery at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

The Stanlow Fuel Protest and Direct Action Group, which recruited supporters through Facebook, had reportedly said 600 vehicles would take part, supported by 3,000 demonstrators, promising major disruption including a blockade of the refinery.

It warned pumps would run dry until the Government gave in to their demands to reduce fuel tax duty.

But the numbers on the protest were well down on what organisers had hoped for.

No major disruption hit the motorway network and when the protesters converged on the refinery, where police officers were on hand, they parked up their vehicles at the side of the road and there was no attempt to blockade the refinery.

Ian Charlesworth, one of the organisers of the protest claimed the demonstration had "shut down" the refinery for "a number of hours". However at the same time petrol tankers were seen to arrive and exit the refinery freely and this was confirmed by Cheshire Police.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "We have been liaising with our neighbouring forces, the Highways Agency, local authorities and other partner agencies, to ensure the demonstration can pass peacefully, safely and legally.

"Officers continue to liaise with the organisers as with previous protests, and we will do all we can to reduce the impact the mobile protest may have on the road networks and to manage any disruption. The role of the constabulary is to impartially allow for peaceful protesting, whilst ensuring that others can continue in their legitimate business activities, or commuting."

A spokesman for Shell, which runs Stanlow, said the site had not been blockaded by the demonstrators. He added: "The protest today has had no effect on operations."

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