8 September 2000
Farmers blockade oil refinery
By FWi staff
MILITANT British farmers have followed the lead of producers across the Channel and blockaded an oil refinery to demand lower taxes on fuel.
The Farmers For Action group joined up with lorry drivers to protest at the Shell Stanlow refinery near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire
Farmers used tractors to blockade the refinery, copying tactics being used by French farmers in their dispute over fuel prices.
The blockade was lifted at 4.30am on Friday (08 September) morning after police warned the 40 remaining protestors they faced arrest.
However, demonstrators have remained at the site.
Tempers flared when one lorry driver tried to force his way out, prompting several farmers to leap on to the vehicle and try to stop the engine.
The protest followed meetings at markets in the north Wales towns of Ruthin and St Asaph on Thursday, reports BBC Online.
Protesters travelled from north Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Shropshire to join the demonstration.
FFA chairman David Handley said the protest was part of an escalating campaign to draw attention to problems facing rural areas.
It is no good this government sitting back and saying it is the fault of the oil countries, Mr Handley told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
Eighty per cent of this fuel price is caused by tax. They can do something about it.
Mr Handley said the demonstration could escalate into “a winter of unrest” and warned that future protests would be closer to London.
We are coming towards your capital city Mr Blair, youve got to listen to us, he warned.
FFA enjoys widespread grassroots support among farmers who approve of its willingness to take direct action.
Farming union figures show UK petrol and diesel prices at the pumps now average 81p per litre, compared with a European wide average of 63.6p per litre.
The average fuel tax rate in Europe is 64.2%, compared with a rate of 76%in the UK
In France negotiations have continued between protesting farmers and hauliers and the government.
A hauliers leader said progress has been made, but farmers warned they would take over the demonstration if lorry drivers struck a deal.