• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Climate protesters target Stonehenge with orange paint

The protest group stated that two activists had “decorated Stonehenge in orange powder paint” to urge the next government to commit legally to phasing out fossil fuels by 2030.

Environmental protesters spray Stonehenge with orange powder paint on Wednesday (June 19). (Photo: Reuters)

By: Vivek Mishra

UK police arrested two people on Wednesday after environmental activists sprayed an orange substance on Stonehenge, a prehistoric UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest England.

The Just Stop Oil protest group stated that two activists had “decorated Stonehenge in orange powder paint” to urge Britain’s next government to commit legally to phasing out fossil fuels by 2030. Footage on social media showed activists, wearing “Just Stop Oil” branded T-shirts, spraying the megalithic stones with the orange substance from a small canister.

The group identified the activists as Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student, and Rajan Naidu, 73, who used “orange cornflour” for the protest. They claimed the substance would “soon wash away with the rain.” English Heritage, managing the site, said its experts were investigating “the extent of the damage” to the stones, some of which are believed to be 5,000 years old.

Wiltshire Police confirmed the arrest of two people following the incident. “Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument,” the police stated. “Our inquiries are ongoing, and we are working closely with English Heritage.”

Footage of the event showed several people attempting to restrain the activists before they stopped and sat on the ground. An English Heritage spokeswoman described the protest action as “extremely upsetting” but noted that the site remained open to the public. “Our curators are investigating the extent of the damage,” she said.

The incident happened during the campaign for a general election on 4 July, drawing condemnation from leaders of Britain’s main political parties.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak called it “a disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK’s and the world’s oldest and most important monuments.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer called it “outrageous” and branded Just Stop Oil “pathetic,” adding that “those responsible must face the full force of the law.”

This sentiment was echoed by Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Just Stop Oil, formed in 2022, seeks an end to new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. It has conducted numerous protests aimed at disrupting events and daily life, leading to many arrests and some activists being jailed.

The latest action occurred the day before the Summer Solstice festival when crowds gather at Stonehenge.

A spokesperson said that although the Labour Party has vowed not to issue new oil and gas drilling licences if they win the upcoming election, “we all know this is not enough.”

They added, “We have to come together to defend humanity, or we risk everything. That’s why Just Stop Oil is demanding that our next government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.”

The spokesperson warned that if governments do not take meaningful action, Just Stop Oil supporters will join in resistance this summer.

“Stone circles can be found in every part of Europe, showing how we’ve always cooperated across vast distances — we’re building on that legacy.”

(AFP)

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