Insulate Britain protesters arrested after blocking M1, M4 and M25
Climate activists brought three motorways to a standstill this morning as a campaign of disruption on Britain’s roads continued.
A total of 39 protesters were arrested after they targeted different spots in a coordinated morning of action.
The government intends to seek a court injunction banning protests on all major roads in the South East – but there’s no indication the hardened protesters will obey it.
Insulate Britain campaigners started by blocking the M4 near Heathrow and junction one of the M1 at Brent Cross, north London, simultaneously at rush hour.
Shortly after, another group blocked junction 25 of the M25, close to Cheshunt around 12 miles north of London, in direct contravention of an existing court order.
The arrests take the total number detained over the last three weeks to 396, many of whom return to demonstrate again as soon as they are released from custody.
In a bid to make them harder to move, some of the activists superglued their hands to the surface of the road and two men fastened themselves to each other by putting intersecting bike locks around their necks.
The group has pledged to continue disrupting road networks until the government commits to retrofitting houses to reduce energy use and tackle fuel poverty.
After the roads were cleared, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced: ‘Activists who invade & glue themselves to roads and motorways represent unacceptable, disruptive & dangerous behaviour.
‘Today, I’ve instructed National Highways to seek a further injunction covering major roads in the South East to prevent highways from being obstructed.’
An earlier High Court order obtained by the government prohibits the protesters from targeting the M25 or routes leading to the Port of Dover.
Breaching the order can result in a prison sentence of up to two years and unlimited financial fines but it hasn’t deterred the group.
Insulate Britain said the demonstrators at today’s protests include eight people released from police custody on Thursday after defying the order to block the M25 at Junction 30 in Essex.
Drivers caught up in long queues beeped their horns frustration but the campaigners did move to allow an ambulance through.
One man was filmed forcefully ripping the group’s banners out of their hands and taking them away.
A woman was pictured getting out of her car to directly remonstrate with the activists.
A spokesperson for the group said: ‘It’s incomprehensible that the government is continuing to delay action on home insulation when we urgently need to cut our carbon emissions, eliminate fuel poverty and help hard working families with their rising energy bills.
‘Added to which industry is crying out for the government to show some leadership and get behind a national retrofitting strategy. Come on Boris: get on with the job!’
Sir Stephen House, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee on Thursday that he is concerned police forces are under so much pressure to quickly clear the protests that ‘officers are putting their lives at risk’.
He went on: ‘The most recent one I saw had officers running between articulated lorries that were moving on the main carriageway of the M25.
‘We cannot be doing that. We cannot put people’s lives at risk. My officers’ lives at risk and indeed the demonstrators’ lives at risk.
‘We have to look out for that first. But we have been very quick in moving these people and arresting them.’
He added: ‘They started off on the slip roads, which is bad enough, but we’ve now moved on to the main carriageways of the M25, which is absolute lunacy.’
Hugh Bladon, founding member of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: ‘What we need now is firm action from the police before someone gets killed.
‘They’ve made their point, now go away and get this country working properly. They’re bang on about insulating houses though.
‘They need to let this country get back to living normally. They need to be seen by the courts, and they need to be dealt with – you can’t allow this to go on.’