Activists protest Shell’s Jackdaw gas field project as no solution to cost-of-living crisis

'Gas is now a staggering nine times more expensive than renewables, and we know it wrecks the planet. So it’s absolutely unfathomable that the government is so fixated on gas, when what’s needed for households and for the climate are genuine solutions.'

Stop Jackdaw

As a new energy cap is announced, sparking warnings that millions could be driven into fuel poverty this winter, and Liz Truss pledges to end the ban on fracking, a campaign group has staged a week of protests, urging the government to stop the controversial Jackdaw gas field project.

The Jackdaw project had previously been rejected by regulators due to the direct environmental impact of extracting the gas. However, it was given the green light on second application in June, when the project received final regulatory approval.

The Jackdaw field is 100 percent owned and operated by BG International Limited, an affiliate of Shell UK, which became part of the Shell group of companies in 2016.

The plan to develop the Jackdaw field in the North Sea will mean gas from the field comes ashore in St Fergus and enters the National Grid to supply homes and businesses throughout the UK. The field is expected to stream in 2025, and, at peak production, could yield 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Burning gas from the field is forecast to cause half of the total emissions of Scotland.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the UK needs to be realistic about energy needs, adding: “Let’s source more of the gas we need from British waters to protect energy security.”


Opposing government plans to boost North Sea oil and gas production is the #StopJackdaw group, born from the Stop Cambo movement. It comprises of campaigners from climate groups who believe developing the North Sea gas field will do nothing to help bring down domestic gas prices and help people struggling to pay soaring energy bills because prices are set intentionally. Instead, the campaigners want to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources.

The activists say that in approving the North Sea project, the government has decided to place the narrow interests of Shell over the public good. They claim that the people of Britain will be forced to pay for almost 90 percent of the costs of all new oil and gas fields, including Jackdaw, through a “deliberate loophole” in the windfall tax.

“Reckless decision”

Philip Evans, oil and gas transition campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the government must stop Jackdaw and instead tackle energy waste from draughty homes and give households cheap, clean power.

“Gas is now a staggering nine times more expensive than renewables, and we know it wrecks the planet. So it’s absolutely unfathomable that the government is so fixated on gas, when what’s needed for households and for the climate are genuine solutions. If the government keeps approving new fossil fuel projects like Jackdaw it should ready itself for a struggle every step of the way, from the protests we’ve seen this week to the courtroom,” said Evans.

Freya Aitchison, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, spoke of how people across the UK are “rightly speaking out and taking action to oppose new oil and gas extraction because of its devastating climate consequences.”

“The UK government must take notice and reverse their reckless decision to approve Jackdaw amidst this escalating climate crisis.

“It’s time for the UK government to put a stop to new fossil fuel developments, and instead deliver a just and rapid transition to an energy system powered by affordable, reliable renewables,” Aitchison added.

The #StopJackdaw Week of Action ran from 20 – 26 August, concluding on the day the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem announced another eye-watering price cap rise, taking the average gas and electricity bill to £3,549 a year.

The week of action involved activists lobbying MPs, setting up street stalls, and attending protests.

On August 26, Fossil Free London and the Stop Jackdaw campaign staged a “die-in” outside Shell’s headquarters in London, to oppose the oil giant’s development of the Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea. 

The campaigners argued that Shell is taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis and that the Jackdaw site will only serve to make more money for the oil giant.

Shell drew criticism earlier this year for receiving £100m more in subsidies than it paid in tax to Britain in 2021, as well as posting record profits of £17 billion in the first half of the year due to soaring fuel prices.

Commenting on the situation, Robin from Fossil Free London said:

“Our reliance on fossil fuels is now not only destroying our chances of having a liveable planet but is also pushing millions of people in the UK into poverty. Jackdaw will only serve to add to the obscene profits that Shell has reaped from the energy crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, and the crisis in Ukraine. It will not help us. Not only this, we are paying public money for the luxury of being ripped off by Shell.

“Meanwhile the government is either missing in action or making the crisis worse. We need to take on the fossil fuel giants to stop thousands of people dying from poverty, hunger, and cold this winter.”

#StopJackdaw petition

The week of action also saw a petition delivered to No 10, demanding the incoming prime minister halts Jackdaw. Signed by more than 60,000 people, the petition received backing from a number of prominent climate action groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

The Tories’ drive to boost North Sea production to ease demand pressure is a policy that  is backed by both party leadership candidates.

During a TalkTV/Sun leadership debate in July, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were asked if they were in support of fracking. Both replied:

“Yes, if local communities support it.”

Writing for the Daily Mail on August 26, Liz Truss, the Tory leadership frontrunner, says she plans to end the ban on fracking as part of a plan to make the UK an ‘energy-secure dynamo.’

Saying that Britain cannot be ‘held hostage’ by authoritarian regimes and must end reliance on foreign imports within a decade, the foreign secretary pledged to win the support of local communities for fracking by ‘ensuring’ they see the benefits, and said new projects will only go ahead if there is a ‘clear public consensus’ in their favour.

In response to Truss’s pledge to withdraw the ban of fracking, Jamie Peters, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told LFF:

“Today of all days the public deserves solutions that will slash bills quickly and drastically. Fracking won’t do either of those things – even the business secretary said that it would take years before the industry could become commercially viable. 

“But people can’t wait years for energy costs to drop, nor can they rely on a gamble as unfeasible as fracking. Millions will have to endure cold, damp homes this winter unless decision-makers come up with some credible policies to protect households, and fast.

“Alongside a stronger package of emergency financial support, a nationwide, street-by-street insulation programme is one of the most effective ways to bring down bills quickly and help those most in need before the cold weather bites. And let’s not forget that renewable energy is now four times cheaper than gas. It’s only logical we boost our supply of clean power.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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