'You'll hate me' teary activist tells motorists as eco zealots grind M25 to a halt

7 November 2022, 08:03 | Updated: 7 November 2022, 15:50

  • Activists from Just Stop Oil have blocked the M25 in at least five locations by climbing the overhead gantries
  • One protester released a teary video from the top of one of the gantries
  • Whilst the flow of traffic has been restored in some places, some blockages remain and there is still heavy disruption
  • Drivers have reported tailbacks of almost an hour, and there have been reports of emergency services struggling to get through
  • It comes despite the overnight arrests of a number of key activists - including the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion - in a 'proactive policing' operation by the Met
An eco protester has issued an emotional plea from the top of an M25 gantry
An eco protester has issued an emotional plea from the top of an M25 gantry. Picture: Just Stop Oil/Surrey Police

By Daisy Stephens

A Just Stop Oil protester has released a teary video from the top of an M25 gantry, telling motorists they are "entitled to hate" her after the group brought much of the motorway to a standstill on Monday.

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Louise, 24, told the camera: "I'm here because I don't have a future.

"And you might hate me for doing this, and you're entitled to hate me, but I wish you would direct all that anger and hatred at our government.

"They are betraying young people like me."

She went on: "How many more people have to say 'we don't have a liveable future if you continue licensing oil and gas' for you to listen?

"Why does it take young people like me, up on a f*****g gantry on the M25, for you to listen?"

Just Stop Oil protester makes emotional plea as she blocks off gantry on the M25 with group

Just Stop Oil caused rush hour chaos on the M25 on Monday, despite a number of 'proactive policing' arrests overnight - including the 'mastermind' behind the protests.

Protesters climbed gantries on the major motorway and caused blockages in at least five locations.

The motorway was closed both ways in Hertfordshire between J22A-22, and between J8-9.

It also closed anti-clockwise on the Kent stretch just before the Dartford Tunnel, and clockwise in Essex at J27.

There was a partial blockage clockwise at J13.

All the closures caused severe delays.

It also affected junctions 6, 25 and 26 as protesters were removed.

The Met said: "A total of 35 arrests have been made by the Met and police services around the M25 in response to the latest disruption."

Read more: Police will 'bring eco mob to justice' after causing 'serious disruption' across capital, warns Met cop

Read more: Eco-protesters should be 'removed as soon as possible’ says Former Met Commissioner

It comes despite the fact seven people were arrested overnight for allegedly planning public disruption - including Roger Hallam, 56, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and the 'mastermind' behind Just Stop Oil.

LBC caller Dan said he had been stopped on the motorway for an hour and claimed he had seen an ambulance struggling to get through the blockage.

"I've just watched an ambulance struggling to get through. I saw it in the mirrors for ages - it just took ages and ages to get through," he said.

Another caller, Damien, was in a queue towards junction 9, and said he was being diverted off the M25 completely.

"All four lanes are shut," he said.

"I'm already 20 minutes late. I'm still 10 miles away from where I need to be."

He said he understood the need to protest but said it is "frustrating when you're in it".

Another caller, Farooq, who was caught in the disruption near to Gatwick Airport, said a protester on the gantry had already been taken down by police but he had been in traffic for nearly an hour.

"We were hoping about 10 minutes ago [when] he was taken down we thought probably we'd be moving soon," he said.

"But I don't know what's happening still."

He later said traffic was beginning to move.

Reacting to the protests, Business Secretary Grant Shapps said they were "completely outrageous" and said he hoped those staging them went to prison.

"It's completely outrageous," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"I have no issue with people arguing for lower levels of petrol, gas - or whatever other thing they want to campaign for - usage.

"That is fine, that is one thing.

Activists have scaled gantries on the M25
Activists have scaled gantries on the M25. Picture: Just Stop Oil

"But don't go disrupting other people's lives. It's unacceptable, it's illegal."

He went on: "When I was Transport Secretary... I made sure that National Highways used injunctions and quite a number of people from one of their sister campaign organisations spent this Christmas in prison.

"I hope that's what happens here as well."

The motorway was shut in at least five places as a result of the demonstrations
The motorway was shut in at least five places as a result of the demonstrations. Picture: Just Stop Oil

It comes after the Metropolitan Police launched a "significant" operation to identify and arrest climate change protesters suspected of planning "reckless and serious" motorway disruption as Cop27 gets underway.

Mr Twist said: "Our investigation has strong reason to suspect the Just Stop Oil group intend to disrupt major motorway road networks which would risk serious harm to the public, with reckless action to obstruct the public on a large scale.

"All those arrested are suspected of engaging in conspiracy to cause public nuisance contrary to Section 78 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

"There remains a possibility outstanding suspects are still intent on causing unlawful disruption to the public.

"The Met has mobilised specialist teams and drawn police officers from across the capital to respond."

Read more: Eco-activists block Knightsbridge and spray paint Harrods on 20th day of protests in London

Read more: Moment fireworks blasted at eco-activists causing travel chaos as they dangle on Dartford Crossing

According to the Met, which is conducting the operation in conjunction with the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), more than 10,000 officer shifts have been dedicated to policing Just Stop Oil protests since the start of October.

"These are officers who would otherwise be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries," Mr Twist said.

"We are determined to bring to justice all of those who conspire to cause significant and unreasonable disruption to London, or cause damage to buildings, property or valuables.

"It's what the public expects, and we'll work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and Courts to make sure this happens."

Roger Hallam pictured in 2021
Roger Hallam pictured in 2021. Picture: Alamy

Police are calling on the public to assist with preventing public disruption from protesters by reporting it to 999.

Just Stop Oil staged 32 days of disruption from the end of September and throughout October, which the Met said resulted in 677 arrests with 111 people charged, and officers working a total of 9,438 additional shifts.

The climate change action group has been calling on the Government to abandon plans to licence over 100 new oil and gas projects by 2025, and to do more to help people with their skyrocketing energy bills.

Read more: Rush hour chaos at Dartford Crossing: Hours-long delays after Just Stop Oil protesters scale QE2 bridge

Read more: Eco activists deny criminal damage over Van Gogh soup protest

"Policy failures... will force millions into poverty and fac(e) a choice between heating, eating, or providing the basic essentials for themselves and their families," Just Stop Oil said in a recent statement.

"After decades of climate misinformation and delay, we face an existential crisis.

"We are going to lose all we hold dear.

"We need to ditch new oil and gas now and we need to change our politics, so that in future everyone can have a say in the decisions that will determine the future of humanity."

According to the group, since its campaign began on April 1, Just Stop Oil supporters have been arrested nearly 2,000 times, with five of their supporters currently in prison.

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