Eco mob block M25 in seventh protest as group defies threats of jail again

29 September 2021, 08:10 | Updated: 29 September 2021, 10:11

Insulate Britain protesters have blocked junction 3 of the M25.
Insulate Britain protesters have blocked junction 3 of the M25. Picture: Insulate Britain/Highways England

By Sophie Barnett

A group of eco-protesters have descended on the M25 and brought misery to drivers for the seventh time in just over two weeks - despite being banned from campaigning on the motorway.

Insulate Britain protesters blocked junction 3 of the M25 this morning, demanding the government take action to insulate all of Britain's social housing to tackle the climate crisis.

They blocked the roundabout where the M25, A20 and M20 all meet, breaking last week’s High Court injunction for the second time, despite the threat of unlimited fines and lengthy prison sentences.

In a tweet, Kent Police said it had arrested 11 people following the protest at the Swanley Interchange roundabout, which started just after 8am.

Police reopened the roundabout shortly before 9am, but said delays remain in the area whilst the backlog of traffic is cleared.

The M25 was already busy following a multi-vehicle crash at the QEII Bridge at Dartford this morning - which involved two lorries and a car.

Read more: 53 Insulate Britain eco-protesters released by police as govt slams ‘guerrilla tactics’

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One caller told Nick Ferrari that no one could get on the M25 at all at junction 3, explaining that he was forced to cut across a traffic island.

A spokesperson for Insulate Britain said this morning: "We are going nowhere. You can raid our savings. You can confiscate our property. You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars. But shooting the messenger can never destroy the message: that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air. Boris get on with the job.”

The group - an off-shoot of Extinction Rebellion - has caused chaos on the M25 and at Dover over the last two weeks, with hundreds of arrests made by police.

Insulate Britain defends blocking roads

Protesters have glued themselves together and onto the road and clambered on top of fuel tankers to bring traffic to a standstill as they demanded action from the government.

More than 50 people were arrested on Monday after they returned to the M25 despite a court injunction being in place.

They were all released by the Met Police on Tuesday under investigation.

Read more: Eco mob vow more mayhem on the M25 hours after Priti threatened to lock them up

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An injunction is currently in place on the M25 and the roads around Dover's ferry port, which sees activists facing contempt of court proceedings, and a possible jail term, if they breach the order.

Government ministers applied for the court order to stop the activists from causing huge disruption after days of them blocking traffic on the motorways.

Following the release of the 53 people from police custody on Tuesday, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: "The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but we will not tolerate the guerrilla tactics we have witnessed over the last two weeks.

"That is why we sought injunctions to put an end to this behaviour, which wreaks havoc and puts people's lives in danger.

"These injunctions are now in place, meaning that if people protest, or encourage others to do so, they face prison or an unlimited fine."

Home Secretary Priti Patel has condemned the demonstrations.

She said: "Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for legitimate groups to make their voices heard. That space is not on a busy motorway putting lives at risk.

"This Government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.

"The guerrilla tactics used by Insulate Britain detract from their cause and I know the public will agree that the scenes on the M25 last week and today are completely unacceptable.

"The police have our full support. They must uphold the law and take decisive action. This kind of disruption is dangerous and takes police away from communities where they are needed most."

This story is being updated