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The BBC's Graham Satchell
"Tactics are being decided almost on the spot"
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Protester, Phil Rees
"We are all going to go bankrupt"
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Archie Norman MP
"I cannot condone direct action"
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John Reid, Scottish Secretary
"I do understand people's concerns"
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Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
'Symbolic' UK fuel protests continue
Lorry driver
A protester makes his way in convoy to Milford Haven
Protesters angry at rising fuel prices have continued to block access to oil refineries in England and Wales, although production remains largely unaffected.

Around 50 lorry drivers have been blocking two oil refineries belonging to Texaco and Elf in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, since Friday.

We may not be stopping many tankers coming in or out but we are still making our presence felt and getting our message across

Protestor Mike Greene

Workers on Saturday morning were forced to enter the depot on foot as protesters blocked road access.

Protester Mike Greene, who runs a family haulage business in Llanelli, west Wales, said: "We are happy with the way the protest is going and we expect to see more fresh faces throughout the day.

"We will have to wait and see what happens today before we decide how long we are going to stay here.

"We may not be stopping many tankers coming in or out but we are still making our presence felt and getting our message across."

In France, the main truckers' and farmers' unions have called on their members to call off the dispute.

The government in Paris, which offered to cut diesel tax earlier this week, has refused to offer any more concessions to the protesters.

On Friday night two men were arrested following an "altercation" at the Shell Oil Refinery, in Stanlow, near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

Cheshire police said there was an incident when a tanker driver tried to leave the site at around 0045 BST.

Lorries on A1
On Friday a go-slow by lorry drivers caused chaos on Tyneside
"The windscreen was damaged and two men were arrested," said Inspector Russell Barnes.

A 35-year-old tanker driver from Merseyside was arrested for attempted assault and a 21-year-old man from Denbighshire was arrested for damaging the tanker.

'Fresh faces'

On Saturday morning a fresh blockade began at Avonmouth Docks, near Bristol, involving around 15 lorries.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has pulled out of two engagements in Liverpool, close to Ellesmere Port, but aides have denied he was attempting to avoid protests over fuel prices.

Managers at Texaco's Milford Haven refinery are said to be unconcerned by the blockade as most of the seven million gallon daily fuel output is pumped out by pipeline.

tankers at Stanlow
On Friday tankers were prevented from leaving the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire
Plant spokesman Phil Thompson said: "Our main concern is the safety of the plant and the people who work here but the protest has been very well handled and is very good-humoured."

Another of the protesters Eifion Jones, a lorry driver from Carmarthen, said: "We are just not letting any vehicles through. We have not stopped anyone going to work. We are doing this as much for them as for us."

Shadow Transport Secretary, Archie Norman, has defended the right to peaceful protest against high fuel prices.

Go slow

But he said demonstrators should direct their protests at the government.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I sympathise with the protesters and I understand very strongly the passionate feelings that are running on this issue.

"But I cannot condone direct action. I feel the person to be protesting at is Gordon Brown and the Government, not the oil refinery and Gordon Brown doesn't live at the refinery."

Scottish Secretary, John Reid, said he understood drivers' concerns about fuel prices.

"Over the past two years, out of the 19p increase, 17p of that has come from the increase in the price of crude oil from around $10 per barrel to $30 per barrel," he told the Today programme.

On Friday, many of the lorries involved in the Milford Haven protest caused traffic chaos with a go-slow protest drive along the A1 from Gateshead.

Earlier, dozens of tankers were prevented from leaving the Stanlow refinery and 11 lorries blockaded the Buncefield oil terminal at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire for more than four hours, causing severe disruption.

It ended when protesters agreed to police requests to disperse.

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See also:

08 Sep 00 | Europe
Trapped Britons plan 'escape'
08 Sep 00 | Business
Refinery hit by fuel protesters
07 Sep 00 | Business
Petrol price rise anger
07 Sep 00 | Europe
British make own blockade
07 Sep 00 | Business
Oil price eases back
31 Aug 00 | Business
Oil markets explained
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