Just Stop Oil activists arrested after Stonehenge sprayed with 'orange powder paint'

19 June 2024, 12:24 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 16:14

Two climate activists have been arrested after Stonehenge was sprayed with "orange powder paint" as part of a protest calling for the next government to commit to phasing out fossil fuels by 2030.

The historic stone circle in Wiltshire was sprayed at around midday, according to the Just Stop Oil protest group - and comes just a day before thousands of people are expected to head there for the summer solstice.

Video footage showed two people wearing white Just Stop Oil shirts running up to the monoliths with canisters spraying paint.

Members of the public were seen trying to prevent the protesters by dragging them away.

Several stones were covered in the substance before the protesters stopped and sat cross-legged on the grass.

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said its action was to demand the next UK government should agree a plan with other countries to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

The two protesters involved in the incident said the spray was an "orange cornflour" which will wash away in the rain, according to the Just Stop Oil website.

In quotes provided by Just Stop Oil, Niamh Lynch, said to be a student from Oxford, said the continued burning of oil, coal and gas was leading to "death and suffering".

"It's time for us to think about what our civilization will leave behind - what is our legacy?" she said.

Just Stop Oil said Rajan Naidu, from Birmingham, added: "Either we end the fossil fuel era, or the fossil fuel era will end us."

Read more:
Who are the Just Stop Oil protest group?

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: "The UK's government in waiting has committed to enacting Just Stop Oil's original demand of 'no new oil and gas'.

"However, we all know this is not enough. Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions.

"We have to come together to defend humanity or we risk everything.

"That's why Just Stop Oil is demanding that our next government sign up to a legally-binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030."

Wiltshire Police said: "We have arrested two people following an incident at Stonehenge this afternoon.

"At around noon, we responded to a report that orange paint had been sprayed on some of the stones by two suspects.

"Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument."

A spokeswoman for English Heritage described the incident as "extremely upsetting" and said the "extent of the damage" was being investigated - but added Stonehenge "remains open" to the public.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the incident was "a disgraceful act of vandalism".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the damage "outrageous" and said "those responsible must face the full force of the law".

Stonehenge was built on the flat lands of Salisbury Plain some 5,000 years ago, with the stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period around 2,500 BC.