Eco protesters call for 10mph motorway speed limit so they can disrupt roads 'in safety'

19 October 2021, 15:18 | Updated: 20 October 2021, 10:59

An Insulate Britain protest on the M25 last month
An Insulate Britain protest on the M25 last month. Picture: Alamy

By James Morris

Insulate Britain protesters have called for a 10mph speed limit on motorways so its activists can protest safely and not come to harm while causing disruption on the roads.

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The brazen demand was heard at a High Court hearing today where a judge extended an injunction granted to Transport for London (TfL) against Insulate Britain.

National Highways, the government agency responsible for maintaining England’s motorways, later told LBC that it would not be changing the speed limit.

Since last month, the controversial eco protesters have blocked motorways around London as part of their demands for the government to provide insulation for all homes in the country, as well as "transition towards full decarbonisation" of society and the economy.

In the High Court hearing, Insulate Britain was given the opportunity to address the court.

And retired GP Diana Warner said National Highways should slow traffic to 10 or 20 mph when protesters are on the carriageways.

The full text of her statement has been posted on Insulate Britain’s website. In it, she says: “If National Highways are committed to safety, they will slow the traffic to 20mph, or 10mph, when there are people on the motorway. I am asking that National Highways do this.”

Insulate Britain was last week made subject to three injunctions granted to National Highways, banning demonstrations on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London.

Read more: Moment enraged mother drives into eco protesters as she tried to take son to school

Dr Warner’s statement continued: “National Highways claim that they have called for this injunction for safety, as well as for economic reasons. We are in agreement about the need for safety on the motorway, even if we disagree about what constitutes public safety in wider terms or about what is necessary for the good of the economy.

“Therefore, I ask that National Highways work with Insulate Britain to ensure safety for everyone, given that I for one will continue this campaign of civil resistance until we get a meaningful statement from the government that we can trust.”

After being contacted by LBC, National Highways regional director Nicola Bell said in a statement: "Our road network is integral for our customers’ journeys and is the backbone of the country’s economy: connecting people, building communities and helping people go about their daily lives.

"Our primary concern is always safety, but changing speed limits in advance of any incident creates a far greater risk to the wider travelling public.”

Today’s High Court hearing, meanwhile, saw the extension of a separate injunction granted to TfL.

The capital’s transport network was originally granted the civil banning order earlier this month, aimed at preventing the Extinction Rebellion offshoot obstructing traffic on some of the capital's busiest roads.

Mr Justice Lavender said the injunction was extended either until a trial is held in the case, a further court order is made, or 8 April next year.