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‘What’s more shocking?’ Activists defend painting Stonehenge

Protesters paint Stonehenge

Source: X (Just Stop Oil)

Environmental activists have defended the “shocking” vandalism of England’s famous Stonehenge monument after their dramatic protest triggered widespread outcry.

Two environmental protesters were arrested after spraying orange paint onto the stones on the eve of the summer solstice celebrations in Britain.

Just Stop Oil media spokesman James Skeet responded to the controversy by asking the question: “What’s more shocking?”

“Is it a bit of orange cornstarch on a treasured monument or is it the fact that governments are committed to burning more oil, gas and coal and we’re just coming off the back of 12 straight months of record temperatures that are leading to fires, floods, crop failures, worldwide, which is going to lead to millions of people displaced in years to come.”

Skeet said there was no permanent damage to the prehistoric monoliths and the orange paint would wash off in the rain.

“When the anger and outrage has died down about some corn powder being put on Stonehenge, it will look very reasonable,” he said.

“Either we end the fossil fuel era – or the fossil fuel era is going to end us,” he said.

English Heritage, the charity that manages Stonehenge, wrote on X that the incident was “extremely upsetting”.

“Our curators are investigating the extent of the damage,” it said.

Stonehenge remains open, it added.

The monument, one of Britain’s most visited tourist spots, also holds spiritual significance and attracts thousands of revellers, spiritualists and tourists during the summer solstice – the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

In video released by environmental group Just Stop Oil, two protesters were seen running towards two of Stonehenge’s megaliths and spraying paint as another person attempted to stop them.

Visitors had been able to walk around within the stone circle, located in southern England, until 1977. It was fenced off due to concerns about damage from a sharp rise in the number of visitors.

“Just Stop Oil are a disgrace,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on X of the protest at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“The damage done to Stonehenge is outrageous,” opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said.

“Just Stop Oil are pathetic.”

Just Stop Oil has gained prominence in Britain for disruptive environmental protests, with its activists shutting down major roads, disrupting cultural and sporting events and even throwing soup at a Van Gogh painting.

The group wants British government to end extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

The incident happened on Wednesday about midday (local time), the day before the summer solstice is celebrated at Stonehenge, which is at the heart of a World Heritage site.

About 8000 people gathered at Stonehenge to mark the longest day of the year in 2023. Similar numbers are expected on Thursday.

-with AAP

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