Environmental campaigners have shrugged off claims of being ‘climate fanatics’ with ‘sinister plans’ after a national newspaper infiltrated a climate emergency talk in Wallingford.

The town found itself at the centre of a storm after a Mail on Sunday journalist infiltrated the Just Stop Oil talk – a protest group led by Extinction Rebellion (XR) co-founder Roger Hallam at Centre 70.

The group discussed its plans to block oil refineries and occupy petrol stations to protest fossil fuel production.

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Oxford Mail: Picture by Zoe BroughtonPicture by Zoe Broughton

Sarah Webb, who works as a special educational needs tutor for young children and is one of the organisers, said: “This was a talk about how to take action regarding the climate emergency.

“In a way, I don’t mind being called a fanatic. I kind of half expected it, because that’s what will happen anyway. Effectively, this is what it means to be in the civil resistance against people in power."

She added: “At the end of March, the Just Stop Oil campaign will be in the streets, and will be blocking fossil fuel infrastructure and then we will go to the petrol stations. And we won’t be popular, but it needs to be done.”

Campaigners want the Government to immediately halt all future exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

The meeting drew a crowd of 50 people.

Oxford Mail: Picture by Zoe BroughtonPicture by Zoe Broughton

Josephine Lawrence, travelled from Marlow, to attend the talk. She was not aware there was an infiltrated journalist in the meeting.

The grandmother of two said: “If that is the game [the paper] wants to play. I just hope people can see through it.

“If they call people who are concerned about the future of humanity a ‘fanatic’, then I think it is a very sad state of affairs.

“It’s a way of trying to bully people and it is unpleasant. But ultimately, sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling names won’t hurt me.”

Dr Sue Roberts, zoologist and district councillor also attended the talk. She said: “I think Just Stop Oil is being very open about its tactics. And just as Extinction Rebellion, its purpose is to be noticed, so that the government than takes the action that we need which is to stop all new oil discovery and production.

“I’m not concerned that someone reported from that meeting. I think people should be aware of what we were being re-informed about. Whether that is by learning from the Mail on Sunday or from the actual disruption.

“It is good Roger came to such an ordinary place. We really appreciate that. Awareness is high in Wallingford.

“People in rural areas can see changes even more clearly that people in the cities. It is good that this kind of talks are taken to the countryside.”

Activists in Wallingford were invited to attend to a second meeting which will take place on Monday at Centre 70.


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