13 September 2000
Fuel protests continue, vow farmers
By FWi staff
FARMERS have vowed to continue protests against fuel prices, despite signs that blockades of oil refineries have been broken.
Tankers rolled out of the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire in the early hours of Wednesday (13 Sep) morning without the agreement of farmers and haulier pickets.
Brynle Williams, leader of Welsh farmers at Stanlow where the protests began last week, is reported to have conceded the blockade was over.
And as the morning has passed reports have filtered through of lorries leaving other depots across the country.
But David Handley, chairman of the Farmers For Action group which has spearheaded the action, insisted blockades would continue.
“The protests go on, he told FWi.
Reports in the media this morning that it has been called off in Cheshire are not correct.
Mr Handley said arrangements had been made for fuel to be delivered for emergency services and for animal welfare reasons.
He added that FFA was currently sorting out fuel supplies for lorries collecting and transporting milk.
Farmer/contractor Steve Porter, protesting at Yelland, north Devon, fuel depot, said protesters were tackling distributors who were supplying lorries.
He said: We let out a tanker load this morning for use by emergency and health services.
Weve also had to divert some of our colleagues to shut off a local distributor who has been letting lorries get fuel.”
He added: “We will continue as long as the rest of the country continue.
Around 60 tankers left refineries overnight, many with the agreement of protesters as they were supplying essential services.
But it seems an increasing numbers of lorries are now leaving to supply forecourts.
This could signal of the end of a protest which has threatened to paralyse the country and left nearly three-quarters of the UKs 13,000 petrol stations dry.
Reuters news agency reports TotalFinaElf saying that 20 tankers had left its Milton Haven refinery in Pembrokeshire, south Wales, bound for filling stations.
Shell said 16 tankers, each carrying 30,000 litres of fuel, had left its Stanlow refinery in Cheshire, north west England.
Three more from the Coryton distribution terminal in Essex, in the south east.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said he hoped to have the situation on the way back to normal by Wednesday night.
The average fuel tax rate in Europe is 64.2%, compared with a rate of 76% in the UK