Eco-mob cause London chaos: Protesters block A4 as commuters face seven mile queues in Dartford

18 October 2022, 00:18 | Updated: 19 October 2022, 09:25

Just Stop Oil protesters caused more havoc on Tuesday
Just Stop Oil protesters caused more havoc on Tuesday. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Kit Heren

Commuters were hit with more disruption in London as eco-activists continued to shut the Queen Elizabeth II bridge and blocked another key route.

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The bridge has been closed since it was scaled by two climbers from the Just Stop Oil protest group, whose demands include that the Government "halts all new oil and gas licences and consents".

They remained suspended up on the bridge over night, causing tailbacks of some seven miles.

They blocked the A4 near Barons Court station on Tuesday morning for the same reason.

The Dartford Crossing closure led to two-hour delays during rush hour on Monday, with six miles of traffic jams anti-clockwise and five miles in the opposite direction, according to National Highways said.

Just Stop Oil activist on the bridge
Just Stop Oil activist on the bridge. Picture: Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil said the two men were "all set up" to spend the night on the bridge.

"They're not going to come down in the dark, and the bridge is still closed," a spokeswoman said.

"So they will have closed the M25 for over 24 hours, at least.

"My understanding is that they are going to stay up there until they're brought down, that's my understanding at the moment.

"I don't know how they're going to be brought down, and I'm not sure the police do either at the moment."

She added that the group has further actions planned in London throughout October.

A protester on the bridge
A protester on the bridge. Picture: Just Stop Oil

Essex Police said officers were called shortly before 3.50am on Monday to a report that two people had climbed on to the bridge at the Dartford Crossing.

Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said his priorities were to "keep people safe and keep Essex moving..."

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

Read more: Just Stop Oil protestors throw soup over Van Gogh's Sunflowers in the National Gallery

"I know this will be frustrating for anyone wanting to use the bridge and I want to be clear - our priorities are to keep people safe and keep Essex moving.

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

Traffic backed up on the bridge
Traffic backed up on the bridge. Picture: Just Stop Oil

An Essex Police spokesman said it was a "complex operation" due to how high the protesters had climbed.

"The QEII bridge is closed to allow us to resolve the situation as safely as possible and a diversion is in place through the tunnel," he said.

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

"We appreciate your patience and understanding and will keep you updated through the day."

Just Stop Oil said: "Two climbers ascended the two 84m masts on the north side of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, forcing the police to stop traffic from entering the bridge," adding: "It is expected that the bridge will remain shut for at least 24 hours."

Police swoop on Just Stop Oil protesters blocking major London road

Morgan Trowland, 39, a bridge design engineer from London, said in a statement released by Just Stop Oil: "As a professional civil engineer, each year as I renew my registration I commit to acting within our code of ethics, which requires me to safeguard human life and welfare and the environment.

"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 QEII bridge until the Government stops all new oil."

Protesters throw soup on famous Van Gogh painting

Another protester, Marcus, 33, a teacher from London, said: "Only direct action will now help to reach the social tipping point we so urgently need."

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

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".

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari questions Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley

"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."