Lorry driver loses job after eco-mob infuriate motorists and grind traffic to a halt

13 October 2021, 11:44 | Updated: 13 October 2021, 12:31

By Sophie Barnett

A lorry driver has told LBC he lost his job interview because of Insulate Britain's blockade at Dartford Crossing, which saw furious drivers clash with activists sitting in the road.

"I've lost my job interview because of these lot here," the lorry driver told LBC's Rachael Venables at the junction north of the Thames, near an overpass for the Queen Elizabeth II bridge.

The father-of-two was heading to a job interview to become a skip driver when he was held up in the demonstration on Wednesday morning.

"I'm a HGV driver and there's a shortage of HGV drivers. None of them [the protesters] work, they have all retired.

"I had an interview this morning, but I've been told I've lost it because I'm too late."

Asked by LBC whether he has lost the job, the driver replied: "Yeah. I'm an hour late because of this lot."

Queues of lorries quickly formed at the protest, and one lorry driver was seen taking his HGV right up to the activists who sat in front of it as things turned violent.

Read more: Eco mob blocks road near Dartford Crossing as activists clash with furious drivers

The area near the Purfleet Freight Terminal is home to a number of business sites - and a route for freight vehicles.

A number of HGV drivers - which there is currently a national shortage of - were caught up in the road block. Some were supposed to be delivering fuel.

Tanker driver Martin told LBC that if the protesters block the road for much longer there will be disruptions to fuel deliveries.

"The night shift drivers may not be able to deliver fuel to garages," he said.

"Talking about lorry driver shortages, fuel shortages, today makes it worse. This is a hotspot.

"We also deliver to commercials, such as bus garages, train depots as well, so they are all essential for transport. So with that interruption here I don't think the next customer will get their fuel delivered today."

Read more: ‘Irresponsible crusties’: Boris Johnson lays into eco protesters bringing misery to roads

Phil, another HGV driver, added: "The point here with us lorry drivers is this is a bottle neck, so what they are trying to do is block that to cause maximum disruption.

"You've got us normal haulage guys, we are working on a fuel reloading station there, but there's a tanker depot behind that.

"They are aiming to stop the tankers especially getting through to the petrol stations so that the public won't have any fuel in the petrol stations.

"Obviously it's a major impact, that's what they are aiming for. For us, it is aimed at us particularly because we are the drivers. We are busy as anything and they are aiming to stop us from moving - and that's what they want."

The disruption at Dartford Crossing not only infuriated lorry drivers, but also enraged people on the school run.

One mum was filmed jumping out of her vehicle and remonstrating at the activists, demanding they move so she could take her 11-year-old son to school.

Meanwhile, a separate Insulate Britain group blocked the junction 31 of the M25 at Thurrock, in breach of an injunction order.

Read more: Police make 38 arrests as eco protestors clash with motorists across London

About 40 activists were at the two sites.

Essex Police confirmed it made 16 arrests on the M25 in the group's latest protest.

Insulate Britain, who were branded "irresponsible crusties" by Boris Johnson on LBC, call for all of the country's social housing to be insulated by 2025 for environmental and fuel poverty reasons.

They have threatened to continue disrupting people's lives on the roads unless its demands are met.

That is despite a court injunction banning its activists from taking to the M25 and the Port of Dover after they launched demonstrations there.

Dr Diana Warner, who the group described as an Insulate Britain supporter, said: "Many people are going out of their way to thank us.

"Some come out of their cars to thank us, some are police officers involved with our arrests. To them, we bring hope - we haven't yet given up. We are still pushing for life saving changes.

"It is a big step to move from thanking us to taking action. But if you make some move to help us, however small, you will be helping us to achieve change."