Greenpeace UK fined £80,000 over oil rig protests

The highest Scottish court has fined Greenpeace UK £80,000 for interfering with the operations of the Transocean floater Paul B Loyd Jr. in the North Sea in June 2019 (IMN June 11th 2019).

Two members of Greenpeace filmed themselves approaching and boarding 27,000 tonne Transocean rig Paul B Loyd Jr on Sunday evening June 9th while it was being towed out to sea in the Cromarty Firth. The rig is contracted to BP. Greenpeace has been calling for BP to end drilling for new oil wells.

The sentence, for contempt of court, could have been harsher. Penalties available included a jail sentencefor Greenpeace UK’s leaders.

The Greenpeace UK protestors occupied the floater for several days. During the occupation Transocean obtained an injunction against Greenpeace in Scottish courts to block further interference with the rig’s operations.

Greenpeace admitted to violating that injunction twice, putting two activists on board the rig on June 14th and attempting to board a second time on June 16th. 14 people (including three photographers) were arrested in connection with the series of direct actions.

Judge Lady Wolffe of Scotland’s Court of Sessions said that she had no doubt that Greenpeace UK’s senior leadership had been closely involved with the operation from the beginning.Her decision to impose only a fine on the organization and not to penalize individual members was an act of leniency, she said.

Greenpeace UK has launched a fundraising appeal. It wrote in the appeal that “when Greenpeace learned about BP’s plans to drill for new oil, we knew we had to take action. If oil companies are allowed to continue with business as usual, the whole world loses out”.

Greenpeace has launched a new civil suit against BP in UK courts, claiming that BP’s lease at the Vorlich field should be invalidated because its development would have a negative effect on the climate.