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

17 October 2022, 07:24 | Updated: 19 October 2022, 09:26

Protesters climbed the bridge in the early hours of Monday morning
Protesters climbed the bridge in the early hours of Monday morning. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Daisy Stephens

Eco protesters from Just Stop Oil scaled the QE2 bridge in the early hours of Monday, causing chaos for rush hour traffic.

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Essex Police said the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at the Dartford Crossing was closed to traffic after two people "climbed onto the bridge and are currently at height".

Police said earlier they were "continuing to work to resolve" the demonstration and confirmed the bridge was still closed.

"This is a complex operation due to the height at which the protestors are currently situated and it may take some but we are working as quickly as possible," said the spokesperson.

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"We want to be clear – our priority is to keep people safe and keep Essex moving.

"We will take action against anyone who puts life in danger or things they can selfishly stop others getting to work or getting on with their lives."

Just after 12pm National Highways said there were currently delays of around two hours in both directions.

Police said the incident would take "some time to resolve"
Police said the incident would take "some time to resolve". Picture: Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil claimed the bridge was expected to remain shut for at least 24 hours after two climbers ascended the two 84m masts on the North side.

Morgan Trowland, 39, a bridge design engineer from London, said: "Our government has enacted suicidal laws to accelerate oil production: killing human life and destroying our environment.

"I can’t challenge this madness in my desk job, designing bridges, so I’m taking direct action, occupying the QE2 bridge until the government stops all new oil."

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Read more: Police finally take 'rapid' action after 13 days of eco protests disrupting London’s roads

Marcus, 33, a teacher from London said "too many people in this country simply don’t know the scale and intensity" of climate change.

"Only direct action will now help to reach the social tipping point we so urgently need," he said.

Two protesters climbed the bridge early on Monday
Two protesters climbed the bridge early on Monday. Picture: Just Stop Oil

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told LBC the force was often able to remove eco protesters in a "reasonable" time but said it had to wait until the disruption was at a certain level before they could intervene.

Asked by Nick Ferrari at Breakfast about the sense police "are not doing enough" after a series of protests, Sir Mark said they needed to judge the "scale of disruption".

"The law is annoyingly complicated," he said.

"I have been spending 200 officer days every day on this, who should be out in communities tackling the anti-social behaviour that matters to people, tackling knife crime.

"And they're messing around with these lot."

But he said he was sympathetic to those affected by the protests, saying: "I understand your point, it's frustrating for Londoners, it's damn frustrating for me too."

'Why can't they get hauled away, Commissioner?'

The A282 Dartford Crossing is currently the only way to cross the Thames east of London by road.

The 2.8km-long (1.7 mile) QEII bridge southbound, and two 1.4km-long (0.8 mile) tunnels northbound link Essex and Kent.

The A282 also connects directly at both ends with the M25 London Orbital Motorway, one of the busiest motorways in Europe.