Number 10 has said it will not apologise for its approach to “energy security” this morning – with Greenpeace saying its protest is against the prime minister’s support for North Sea oil extraction.
By Tom Gillespie, News reporter @TomGillespie1
Greenpeace activists have covered Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home in oil-black fabric after climbing on to the roof of the property.
Four activists used ladders and climbing ropes to reach the roof of the manor house in Kirby Sigston before unfolding the 200sq m of fabric.
Two of the environmental campaign group’s activists also unfurled a banner with the words “Rishi Sunak – Oil Profits or Our Future?” across the grass in front of the mansion.
The group was acting in protest against the prime minister’s “backing for a major expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling” – where it will grant 100 new licences off the coast of Scotland.
Mr Sunak is on holiday in California so was not in his home this morning.
A Number 10 source has said police are now at the property.
They added: “We make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security, using the resources we have here at home so we are never reliant on aggressors like (Vladimir) Putin for our energy. We are also investing in renewables and our approach supports 1000s of British jobs.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who is standing in for Mr Sunak during his holiday, has defended the government’s decision to drill for oil and gas, saying they are needed as part of our “energy mix”.
North Yorkshire Police has confirmed its officers are at the scene “managing the situation”.
But the activists said they’re “holding firm for now”.
Greenpeace campaigner Philip Evans said the group had made sure the PM’s family were on holiday and not going to be at home before carrying out the protest.
He said the group had knocked on the door when they arrived and said “this is a peaceful protest” but there was no answer.
Mr Evans added: “Rishi Sunak’s government has been the worst government we’ve had on climate.”
Sunak is a ‘climate arsonist’, Greenpeace campaigner says
Greenpeace has said it is also carrying out its protest because Mr Sunak has indicated he will approve drilling at Rosebank – the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field.
The group says the move “flies in the face of multiple warnings from the government’s own climate advisers, the International Energy Agency and the UN secretary general that any new fossil fuel projects risk tipping the world into the danger zone above 1.5C of warming”.
Campaigners have warned against Mr Sunak’s plans to grant the licences for extraction in the North Sea amid concerns it will hinder efforts to reach net zero by 2050.
Mr Evans said: “We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist.
“Sunak is even willing to peddle the old myth about new oil and gas helping ordinary people struggling with energy bills when he knows full well it’s not true. More North Sea drilling will only benefit oil giants who stand to make even more billions from it, partly thanks to a giant loophole in Sunak’s own windfall tax.”
Speaking on a visit to Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool, the deputy prime minister Mr Dowden said: “I think what most people would say is ‘can you stop the stupid stunts’, actually what they want to see from government is action.
“That’s what you’re seeing here today, the world’s largest offshore wind farm being built right here, creating jobs.
“But at the same time we’re going to need in the coming decades oil and gas as part of our energy mix.
“The question is do we produce it here, where we get more tax, we create more jobs, or do we do what the Labour and others say which is say ‘no more investment in our North Sea oil and gas’?”
Alicia Kearns, the senior Tory who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, called the protest “unacceptable”.
She said: “Politicians live in the public eye and rightly receive intense scrutiny, but their family homes should not be under assault.
“Before long police will need to be stationed outside the home of every MP.”