Fuel protesters' Ellesmere Port oil blockade bid

Fuel protesters have staged a day-long protest, culminating with a demonstration outside the Shell oil depot at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

Earlier, about 150 vehicles staged a go-slow protest along the M56 and M53, with lorry drivers, farmers and bikers travelling in 20mph convoys.

Some 40 people remained at the plant on Sunday evening, calling on the government to reduce fuel duty.

A spokesperson for Shell said the protest was "not affecting operations".

'People suffering'

The Stanlow oil depot produces one sixth of Britain's petrol, and some campaigners say they will stay overnight.

The Stanlow Fuel Protest and Direct Action Group, which recruited supporters through Facebook, had said it intended to block the Ellesmere Port refinery's exits until their demands were met.

But when the protesters converged on the refinery, where police officers were on hand, they parked up their vehicles at the side of the road.

Organiser Ian Charlesworth claimed their action had "shut down" the refinery for "a number of hours."

But petrol tankers were seen to arrive and exit the refinery freely.

Mr Charlesworth, from Hawarden, Flintshire, who runs a construction business, said he had been forced to get rid of two of his company vans in the last three months and lay off four staff.

"People are suffering already from the high cost of fuel as they are having to give up jobs they can't afford to drive to," he added.

Cheshire Police said it had liaised with neighbouring forces, the Highways Agency and local authorities to "ensure the demonstration can pass peacefully, safely and legally".

A spokeswoman said: "Officers continue to liaise with the organisers as with previous protests, and we will do all we can to reduce the impact the mobile protest may have on the road networks and to manage any disruption.

"Our role is to impartially allow for peaceful protesting, whilst ensuring that others can continue in their legitimate business activities, or commuting."

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