Climbers drape Sunak’s £2m mansion in oil-black fabric as PM commits to fossil fuel frenzy

Greenpeace activists have climbed onto the roof of Rishi Sunak's £2m country mansion in protest at his backing for a major expansion of oil and gas drilling amid a climate crisis


For Immediate release

Photos and footage of the live action can be found here


Four Greenpeace activists climbed onto the roof of the Prime Minister’s £2m manor house in Yorkshire earlier this morning in protest at his backing for a major expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling amidst a summer of escalating climate impacts.


After reaching the top of the building using ladders and climbing ropes, the activists unfolded 200 sq metres of oil-black fabric to cover a whole side of the luxury mansion. At the same time, two activists unfurled a banner emblazoned with the words “Rishi Sunak – Oil Profits or Our Future?” across the grass in front of the manor house. 


Sunak’s government has come under heavy criticism for pushing ahead with plans to hand out around 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, and even hinting at additional ones in future. He has also indicated that he will approve drilling at Rosebank – the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field. The controversial move flies in the face of multiple warnings from the government’s own climate advisers, the International Energy Agency and the UN Secretary General that any new fossil fuel projects risk tipping the world into the danger zone above 1.5C of warming. 


The move, part of a series of climate policy row-backs following the Uxbridge by-election results, comes amidst a summer of devastating wildfires, floods and heatwaves. July has seen the hottest three-week period ever recorded, the three hottest days on record, and the warmest ocean temperatures ever for this season.


Campaigners are warning that any new oil and gas from the North Sea will do nothing for our energy security or bills despite government rhetoric. The companies that own it will simply export it overseas, and any that is sold back to us will be done so at the international market price. 


Commenting on the protest, Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner, said:


“We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist. Just as wildfires and floods wreck homes and lives around the world, Sunak is committing to a massive expansion of oil and gas drilling. He seems quite happy to hold a blowtorch to the planet if he can score a few political points by sowing division around climate in this country. This is cynical beyond belief.


“Sunak is even willing to peddle the old myth about new oil and gas helping ordinary people struggling with energy bills when he knows full well it’s not true. More North Sea drilling will only benefit oil giants who stand to make even more billions from it, partly thanks to a giant loophole in Sunak’s own windfall tax.


“The experts are clear – we can’t afford any new oil and gas, and the fossil fuel industry certainly doesn’t need another helping hand in destroying the climate. What we need is a clean, affordable energy system fit for the 21st century. It’s time for Sunak to choose between Big Oil’s profits or our future on a habitable planet.”


The Sunak government is also expected to approve Rosebank, the largest undeveloped oil field in the North Sea. And thanks to a loophole in Sunak’s windfall tax, the UK public will foot the bill for 91% of the development costs as the Norwegian oil giant that owns it, Equinor, will be handed £3.75billion of public money to develop the field whilst being able to rake in tens of billions in profits. [1] 


There is wide agreement that there should be no new oil and gas exploration or development. Former Tory Net Zero Tsar, Chris Skidmore, has called for Rosebank to be halted, and former COP President and Tory MP, Alok Sharma, has also spoken out against Rosebank, highlighting that it won’t help bring down energy bills. 




Greenpeace spokespeople are available for interviews. Please contact Joseph Evans at or call +44 7890 595387 to arrange a time.

Photos and footage of the live action can be found here.


Notes to Editors

  1. Rosebank is the largest undeveloped oil field in the North Sea. It is so vast that it would single-handedly blow the UK’s carbon budget for oil and gas production. Burning all Rosebank’s oil and gas would create more CO2 than the combined emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world as defined by the World Bank.

Media Contacts

Joseph Evans, Press and Communications Officer at Greenpeace UK / +44 7890 595387

Greenpeace UK Press Office / 020 7685 8255

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