Greenpeace protesters climb onto roof of Rishi Sunak's North Yorkshire home
The campaigners said they had draped the Prime Minister’s manor house in North Yorkshire with an oily-black fabric to “drive home the dangerous consequences”. They took the action on Thursday as Mr Sunak and his family are away on holiday in California. Police were understood to be in attendance, as Greenpeace faced criticism for targeting his family home in Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton.
Mr Sunak, the MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, has said he plans to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves by granting more than 100 new licences for extraction in the North Sea. He 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.
Climate-conscious Conservatives have joined campaigners to warn against the move, amid concerns it will hinder efforts to reach net-zero by 2050. After scaling the house, the four activists held up a banner demanding “no new oil”.
Greenpeace UK climate campaigner Philip Evans said: “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.
“He seems quite happy to hold a blowtorch to the planet if he can score a few political points by sowing division around climate in this country. This is cynical beyond belief. 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.”
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.”