ENVIRONMENTALISTS are threatening to cripple Scotland's vital fuel supplies in the coming months to protest at the expansion of the North Sea oil and gas industry.

In an exclusive interview with The Herald, campaign group This is Rigged warn they plan to escalate action by “shutting down the fossil fuel industry”.

The move will echo the devastating blockades of 2000 over the soaring cost of fuel which caused widespread disruption to the UK supply chain.

The climate group have been interrupting First Ministers Questions, leading to restrictions being placed on protestors. Now This is Rigged are vowing a "blockade of oil and gas infrastructure.”

The action planned by This is Rigged would not be the first blockade of oil and gas infrastructure in Scotland.

Last May Just Stop Oil carried out a 60-hour blockade of Nustar Clydebank facility in West Dunbartonshire which lead to 31 arrests.

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But This is Rigged claim that its action will be enough to “shut down the oil industry”.

A spokesperson said: "We can look at social justice movements, the women's rent strikes in 1915 or the shipbuilding protests in 1919 or the erection of Faslane.

"All these groups were ordinary people in Scotland who saw that they were not being treated equitably and that there was an injustice happening they had the power to change so they took part in civil disobedience.

"With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that led to positive change. We are in the middle of these civil disobedient actions but it is only a matter of time until these demands are met and positive change does come about.

"We just wish the Scottish Government do us all a favour and meet these demands now as they are perfectly reasonable.”

The Herald:

This is Rigged is calling on the Scottish Government to oppose all new fossil fuel projects in Scotland and create a clear fully funded transition for oil and gas workers.

The “blockade of oil and gas infrastructure aims to take it to the source because oil and gas companies are at the root of these problems”.

This would “mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis”. The group has suggested that the blockading of oil and gas will not be the end of its actions and instead it “will continue to evolve and escalate actions until these demands are met”.

The last major blockade of oil and gas facilities in 2000 led to panic buying at pumps and the prospect of fuel rationing.

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For just over a week in September 2000, a committed group of truckers and farmers angry at rising fuel prices brought Britain to its knees.

By blockading refineries, they caused petrol stations to run dry, leading to empty shelves in supermarkets, delays to mail deliveries, schools being shut and the army being put on standby.

The situation was made worse by panic buying, which led to a week's worth of fuel being sold in three days.

Truckers also led 'go-slow' protests on the roads which led to huge queues of traffic, including in Central London.

The then Prime Minister Tony Blair's popularity plummeted as he took a tough line by refusing to cut fuel duty, which he had hiked less than two years earlier.

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Then, after soldiers were ordered to prepare to drive 80 tankers through blockades and the NHS was put on an emergency footing, the protests came to an end and supplies slowly returned to normal.

Despite the protesters' apparent climbdown, their main aim was achieved less than a month later, when Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in that year's budget that fuel duty would be frozen and vehicle excise duty effectively cut.

The crisis was precipitated by the price of crude oil rising in early September 2000 to £23 a barrel.

Then, French truckers staged their own blockades, causing more than 14,000 of France's 17,000 petrol stations to close.

On September 8, British lorry drivers decided to follow the lead of their counterparts on the Continent.

It took less than 24 hours for the effects of the blockade to filter through to forecourts, which began to run dry. By September 12, as many as 3,000 petrol stations – of 13,500 nationally - were dry.

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On September 11, BP said that 600 of its 1,500 outlets had run dry or were soon going to. Esso said more than 350 of its 1,600 had run out, while Texaco said one in three of its outlets were set to end up empty.

At the Grangemouth depot, which normally supplied 90 per cent of Scotland’s  fuel via 300 truckloads a day, only 13 tankers made it through the blockaders' picket line on September 13.

With delivery trucks unable to fill up, the shortages soon spread to supermarkets and other stores.

Worried shoppers also flocked to stock up on essential goods, leading to empty shelves and heaping further pressure on the stretched supply chains.

Ambulance services were also forced to cancel all non-emergency journeys to and from hospitals to save fuel.

The Royal Mail also warned that they did not have enough fuel to keep their delivery trucks going, while more than 70 schools closed and even rubbish collections were hit.

The protestors confirmed they are not concerned with losing public support over its disruption saying that the actions of the Scottish Government “eclipses any action we can take”.

The spokesman added: “The government and their negligence is what is disruption not doing anything to address the climate crisis.

“Any action that we have taken, plan to take or hope to take can not be as disruptive as the immense stakes that there are due to these crises”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to a just transition, and ensuring we take workers with us on our journey to net zero. Decisions on oil and gas exploration and licensing remain reserved to the UK Government. But through our draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, we have set out a clear pathway to deliver on global commitments and capitalise on the enormous opportunities offered by becoming a net zero economy.

“Our focus must be meeting our energy security needs, reducing emissions and ensuring a just transition for our oil and gas workforce as North Sea resources decline.

“We have consistently called for the UK Government’s Climate Compatibility Checkpoint to be strengthened and are consulting on our approach to energy transition. We encourage stakeholders to contribute to the consultation rather than disrupting the democratic processes of the Scottish Parliament.”