This Saturday (10th June), hundreds of people will descend on beaches across Scotland to stage a Wave of Resistance against the Rosebank oil field.  

From Shetland to Aberdeen to Oban to Edinburgh, people will take to the sea in boats, kayaks, and paddleboards to protest against Rosebank, which is the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, and highlight concerns about its potential impact on Scotland’s marine life if the UK government gives it the green light. Grant Shapps is expected to make a decision imminently on whether or not to approve Rosebank.   

In Aberdeen, paddle boarders will stage a “paddle out” and leave “Stop Rosebank ” messages in the sand, while in Oban, activists from the group Time for Change Argyll & Bute will take part in a beach clean and hear about local ocean restoration as well as staging a protest on the beach. 

Rosebank oil field endangers marine environment

Alongside dozens of climate and marine organisations, including Friends of the Earth Scotland, Surfers Against Sewage, Sea Shepherd UK and Greenpeace UK, activists are demanding that Equinor, Norway’s state-owned oil company, halt its plans to develop Rosebank and that the UK government reject the project. The field contains 500 million barrels of oil, which – if burned – would generate more CO2 emissions than the annual CO2 emissions of the world’s 28 low-income countries. (1) 

To develop Rosebank, Equinor plans to run a gas export pipeline directly through the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt, a UK Marine Protected Area (MPA) (2), threatening marine life on the seabed, including rare, deep sea sponges and quahogs, an endangered species of clam that can live for up to 500 years (3). Cold water coral gardens in the area, which are a threatened and declining habitat, could also be impacted by the development (4), as well as the UK’s populations of whales and dolphins.(5) 

Modelling also shows that a major oil spill from Rosebank could risk serious impact to at least 16 UK Marine Protected Areas. (6) Three quarters of the UK public (75%) are opposed to drilling in marine protected areas, according to a YouGov poll earlier this year. (7) 

Oil and gas will ‘cost us the earth’

Izzy Ross who is taking part in the Aberdeen ‘paddle out’ with Surfers Against Sewage, said: 
 “I’m taking part today, with surfers, divers, and others from across the UK who live by the coast to ask the government to protect Britain’s seas and stop Rosebank. We are finally starting to appreciate how rich, diverse and important Britain’s waters are, and in particular the seas around Scotland. Now is the time to protect and restore them, not continue to pollute and industrialise them for the sake of oil and gas industry profits.

“Rosebank won’t help lower our bills, or make the UK any more energy secure as most of its oil reserves will get put in tankers and sold overseas. People are demanding that our politicians put the health of our seas and amazing marine life first.” 

Scott Herrett, Just Transition Organiser at Friends of the Earth Scotland, who will be taking part in the Aberdeen paddle out said: 

“Drilling for more oil and gas will cost us the earth and will continue to lock millions of people into unaffordable energy across the UK. It’s time for Aberdeen to go in a new direction towards clean renewable energy that has minimal impact on our marine life and can provide good quality green jobs for the long term. 

“Energy workers and those communities around oil and gas have to be at the heart of directing this transition to ensure it meets their needs and retains their skills. Climate action in the North East means making public transport more affordable and available, as well as ensuring every home is energy efficient so that we can reduce our energy needs and improve the lives of people.” 
Rowan Aitchison, who is organising the Oban protest as part of Time for Change Argyll & Bute, said: 
“Living by the sea is a big part of life in Argyll. We have a huge amount of beautiful coastline, beaches and islands, which are also home to an amazing diversity of wildlife both on the shores and in the ocean. We all want to be able to continue to enjoy our coast and sea in Argyll for years to come, and for future generations to be able to enjoy it and live in harmony with it too. For this to happen, we need to halt climate change and make sure that the oil and gas industry can’t continue to pollute our seas and damage marine ecosystems. The UK Government must put a stop to Rosebank and all new oil and gas projects now.” 


(1)World Bank. CO2 emissions. (2020) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.KT

(2) Rosebank Environmental Statement submitted to OPRED, 2022 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1097880/Rosebank_Environmental_Statement_-_Final_for_Submission_To_OPRED_Equinor_3rd_August_2022.pdf 

(3) OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining species and habitats https://www.ospar.org/work-areas/bdc/species-habitats/list-of-threatened-declining-species-habitats 

(4) Rosebank Field Development Request for Further Consultation, 23 February 2022 (available on request)

(5) A new research paper, In Deep Water, commissioned by Uplift and Oceana, highlights how the noise and oil pollution generated by the oil and gas industry’s operations in the North Sea could impact the UK’s populations of whales and dolphins. The small but routine oil spills created during production that collect on the water’s surface, can be inhaled by the creatures and contaminate their prey, and the seismic surveys generated by the industry can disturb their behaviour and lead to psychological distress. https://www.indeepwater.co.uk/

(6) In Deep Water, a report by Uplift and Oceana, 2023 https://www.indeepwater.co.uk/

(7) YouGovDirect interviewed 2,193 people between 1-2 February 2023. Results were weighted to be representative of the GB population.

(8) Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.