EXTINCTION Rebellion campaigners protested outside MP Mark Garnier's office urging him to reject a controversial bill in a move that they claim would reduce the risk of future flooding. 

The Wyre Forest branch of the climate change awareness group patrolled Bewdley Road, Stourport on Friday (January 12).

The group handed out leaflets drawing attention to the global climate crisis and the causes of recent flooding. They have raised concerns about the upcoming Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which could see more gas and oil fields open. 

Environment campaigner David Whiting said: “We have seen recently how flooding ruins lives, with homes, businesses and farmland under water.

"This has led to crop failures, transport problems and huge costs. Barriers for the few are not the answer.

"And things can only get worse as the world has just experienced the warmest average temperatures since records began.

"This should not be a political issue but the Government intends to introduce a Bill which will result in more gas and oil fields being opened in the North Sea. It will be extracted and owned by international companies and sold on the open market. It will neither help with energy security nor supply cheaper energy to hard-pressed householders.

"We know we currently rely on oil and gas but we must transition to less carbon intensive energy as quickly as possible.

"We are calling on Mark Garnier to join with other Conservative MPs to vote to reject this Bill and in doing so, to reduce the risk of flooding in the future".

Mr Garnier said he was "a bit surprised" that the protest was held after recently meeting with the group.

He said: "I agree with them about climate change, and the fact that it is man-made.

"As a member of the Energy Security and Net Zero Select Committee, I see all the date they see and more. I also take an active interest in new technologies that will tackle base load green electricity delivery.

"But I disagree with their proposition on the new licenses.

"Moving to new technologies will take time and this means that in the shorter term, we will use in this country the same amount of oil and gas, if not more, over the coming decade or two. Recent announcements demonstrate the government’s enthusiasm to move away from fossil fuels – note the small modular nuclear reactor announcement last week, for example. But this takes time".

He said that opening new oil and gas fields "achieves a lot of positive outcomes," including energy supply security and reducing the UK carbon footprint because we do not have to ship so much oil and gas from overseas.

He also said that it generates increased UK tax receipts, which are used to subsidise home insulation and heat source boilers, and incentivises oil and gas companies to invest into green technology.

Mr Garnier added: "So XR’s position is to actually vote in favour of increasing the UK carbon footprint, and diverting funds away from the UK’s green energy investment.

"I don’t agree that this is in line with the country’s or the planet’s climate objectives and so I will be voting in a way that moves the UK forward in the right direction to decarbonising, even if the short-term measures seem counterintuitive".