Four activists have climbed onto the roof of the Prime Minister’s £2m North Yorkshire mansion today in protest at his backing for a major expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling.
After reaching the top of the building using ladders and climbing ropes, the Greenpeace campaigners unfolded 200 sq metres of oil-black fabric to cover a whole side of Rishi Sunak’s manor house, near Northallerton.
At the same time, two activists unfurled a banner emblazoned with the words ‘Rishi Sunak – Oil Profits or Our Future?’ across the grass in front of the manor house.
It is not known whether anyone was in the house at the time. Mr Sunak and his family went on holiday to the United States on Wednesday.
Police are at the scene.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “We were made aware at 8.06am this morning of a number of protesters climbing onto the roof of the Prime Minister’s home in Kirby Sigston.
“Officers have contained the area and no one has entered the building.
“At present there are four protesters on the roof of the property.
“The PM and his family are not at home.”
A former deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire Police said it was a “major breach of security”, as he called for an “investigation into how this has been allowed to happen”.
And Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who is standing in for Mr Sunak during his holiday, told the protesters to “stop the stupid stunts”.
The protest is targeting the government decision to push ahead with plans to hand out around 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.
Mr Sunak, the MP for Richmond, has also hinted that the UK’s largest untapped oil field, Rosebank, to the west of Shetland, could be approved despite fierce opposition from environmental campaigners.
The moves come in a summer marked by heatwaves, devastating wildfires and floods.
July has seen the hottest three-week period ever recorded, the three hottest days on record, and the warmest ocean temperatures ever for this season.
Campaigners say that any new oil and gas from the North Sea will “do nothing for our energy security or bills despite government rhetoric”.
Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner, said the group had knocked on the door when they arrived and said “this is a peaceful protest”, but there was no answer.
Asked whether it was intrusive to target someone’s home, Mr Evans said: “This is the Prime Minister. He is the one that was standing in Scotland going to drill for every last drop of oil while the world is burning.
“He is personally responsible for that decision and we’re all going to be paying a high price if he goes through with it. It is personal.”
He added: “We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist. Just as wildfires and floods wreck homes and lives around the world, Sunak is committing to a massive expansion of oil and gas drilling.
“The experts are clear – we can’t afford any new oil and gas, and the fossil fuel industry certainly doesn’t need another helping hand in destroying the climate. What we need is a clean, affordable energy system fit for the 21st century.”
A No 10 source said “police are in attendance” before defending Mr Sunak’s climate policies.
“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 (Russian President Vladimir) Putin for our energy,” they said.
“We are also investing in renewables and our approach supports thousands of British jobs.”
Alicia Kearns, the senior Tory who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said the action was “unacceptable”.
“Politicians live in the public eye and rightly receive intense scrutiny, but their family homes should not be under assault,” she said.
“Before long police will need to be stationed outside the home of every MP.”
Peter Walker, who stepped down as North Yorkshire Police deputy chief constable in 2003, said he was “absolutely astonished” the protesters gained access to the house, as he called for an investigation.
He told LBC radio: “It is clearly in my view a major breach of security.
“If free access is being granted to that property, people who wanted to do much more serious things would be able to leave devices or booby traps or something like that, and I really think this is a major failing, and it grieves me to say it because it’s my old police force that has failed.”
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