It may be a municipal mouse but Uckfield Town Council hopes its roar is enough to scare the world's largest oil company.

The small Sussex council is to boycott the oil giant Esso, blaming the corporation for sabotaging attempts to prevent climate change.

Councillors, who watched as their town was flooded four times last winter, voted to bar the council's vehicles from using Esso petrol.

They have also written to President Bush, saying the United States should not drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Independent councillor Alan Whittaker, who suggested the council boycott, said Esso was not doing enough to combat climate change.

He said: "In view of Esso's actions, we had to make a stand and act locally while thinking globally. We hope other councils will take up our position."

The council has an annual budget of about £620,000, a fraction of the £12 billion profit Esso made in 2000.

The oil giant has been targeted by environmentalists because of its links to the Bush administration and its opposition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other councillors are less enthusiastic about the boycott. Liberal Democrat Tony Parker said the council could do more for the environment by improving the energy efficiency of its buildings.

He said: "It is important we lead by example on the environment but it is not for the council to decide what America does."

Tory county councillor Chris Dowling said: "We all want to sort out the environmental issues but I think bringing it down to local Esso stations is not the way to do it really."