EXCLUSIVE: Eco-zealot, 29, who brought the M25 to a standstill was working as a systems engineer for gas-guzzling car manufacturer Rolls-Royce weeks before Just Stop Oil protest
- EXCLUSIVE: Tom Gardener, 29, worked for Rolls Royce until the end of summer
- The company accounted for 0.6% of all man-made carbon emissions in 2019
- Mr Gardener of Nottingham joined forces with Just Stop Oil to paralyse the M25
An eco-zealot who helped paralyse the M25 was working for super-polluter Rolls Royce just weeks before the protest, MailOnline can reveal.
Tom Gardener, 29, was a systems engineer working for the company which, by its own admission, accounted for 0.6 per cent of worldwide man-made carbon emissions in 2019.
He was based at their Raynesway plant in Derby which builds nuclear reactors for Britain’s Royal Navy.
According to a former colleague, he resigned from his position – which offers average salaries of £44,461 – at the end of the summer.
‘He had made his position clear as regards the importance of the environment and decided that he could no longer go on doing what he had done for several years,’ said a source. ‘He was not in any trouble at work. They were sorry to lose him.’
Now he, along with 57 others, have been charged with causing a public nuisance after climbing on to a gantry of the M25 as part of the Just Stop Oil protests.
Tom Gardener, 29, worked as a systems engineer for Rolls Royce until the end of the summer
He, along with 57 others, have been charged with causing a public nuisance after climbing on to a gantry of the M25 as part of the Just Stop Oil protests
Mr Gardener, who lives with his girlfriend in Stapleford, Nottingham, appeared at Reading Magistrates’ Court last Friday.
He comes from Hertfordshire and it is understood that he moved to the Midlands after graduating from the University of Sheffield where he studied aerospace.
Just before his arrest, he had told reporters that he was part of the group Animal Rebellion that had joined forces with Just Stop Oil to highlight the climate crisis.
From the gantry, he said: ‘’We continue to see absolute neglect and lack of leadership from those who hold power in this country.
‘Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman, and the rest of the Government, people across this country are calling on you to do what is right and halt all new oil and gas licenses and invest in renewables and a plant-based future.’
On his Instagram, he describes himself as a ‘vegan, engineer, kayaker and ice hockey fan’.
Pictures of him wearing a hard yellow hat as he hung over the M25, stunned his neighbours, over 150 miles away.
Police officers attempt to stop an activist as they put up a banner reading ‘Just Stop Oil’ atop an electronic traffic sign along M25
Just Stop Oil supporters climbed onto motorway gantries around the M25 as part of their campaign to demand that the government halts all new oil and gas licences and consents
One said: ‘I don’t know him well but I knew he worked at Rolls Royce so I did not expect to see him up on a gantry protesting about environmental disaster.’
Rolls Royce say they are committed to going net-zero in their operations by 2030 and net-zero as a company by 2050.
They also aim to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent before the end of the decade.
Another local resident, academic Mohammed Ali, 37, defended his neighbour’s tactics, and said: ‘I know Tom to say hello to but not particularly well and I was not aware of his involvement.
‘I would not condemn him. Maybe we will look back in the future and say that these people were right. It wouldn’t be the first time we have done that.
‘There has been so much talk about this issue and pledges and summits but things are not changing fast enough. Most people agree with this.
‘The fact that we are talking about it at all shows that people like my neighbour are helping.’
An activist puts up a banner reading ‘Just Stop Oil’ atop an electronic traffic sign along the M25
But another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said the former Rolls-Royce employee had shown a moralising side to his personality during the Covid lockdown.
He said: ‘He got involved quite unnecessarily in telling off one of his neighbours because he had seen her daughter visit.
‘What he did not know was that this lady had just had an operation and her daughter was allowed to visit to change her dressings.
‘He had just jumped to the wrong conclusion and written quite a long note telling her off. It was off-putting.’
Mr Gardener did not respond when asked for comment.
A spokesman for Rolls Royce said: ‘Given data protection regulations, we are unable to confirm whether an individual of this name has worked for Rolls-Royce or not.’