Arrests made as protesters block motorways over fuel prices and slam 'greedy' Govt

4 July 2022, 06:17 | Updated: 4 July 2022, 14:53

Motorists face "serious disruption throughout the day" as protesters target motorways
Motorists face "serious disruption throughout the day" as protesters target motorways. Picture: LBC

By Megan Hinton

Several arrests of protesters have been made over targeting motorways in a demonstration over high fuel prices.

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According to Sky News, at least 12 arrests have been made on the M4 after protesters breached the legal agreement made with the police.

The agreement said that the protest could go ahead if the protesting drivers did not fall below 30mph.

Roads in various parts of the country were subject to "serious disruption" on Monday as protesters take action and call for a cut in fuel duty.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, of Gwent Police, said: "We are seeing significant delays both east and westbound on the Prince of Wales Bridge due to the planned protest.

"We are seeking to return traffic to normal as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset Police said two slow-moving roadblocks in the force area have a potential to cause disruption - one on the M4 westbound, travelling from junction 17 towards Wales, and another on the M5 northbound, due to travel from junction 24 towards Almondsbury Interchange later.

Vicky, one of those protesting in Cumbria, said she was sacked from her job as she couldn't afford to fill her truck.

She told LBC she is demonstrating to "stop the greedy people at the top fleecing us dry".

"Enough is enough, we've had enough," she said, as she slammed the Government for "making us bankrupt, living in our homes like prisoners".

"We want our freedom back and we are going to take it," she said.

Protests will target mainly three-lane motorways and see slow-downs on two lanes, leaving the fast lane free, according to FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox.

While he said his organisation is not involved in the action, he is "fully supportive" of the demonstrations so long as they are conducted legally.

The protests are understood to be organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.

Read more: What is the petrol price app? How to find the cheapest fuel in your area

Organisers have indicated an intention to block the Prince of Wales Bridge, with the protest starting on the M4 at Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and junction 20 of the M4 westbound.

Disruption is also possible in Essex and Gloucestershire.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said he would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

Protesters are calling for a cut in fuel duty
Protesters are calling for a cut in fuel duty. Picture: Alamy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he will carefully consider calls for a "more substantial" fuel duty cut after the 5p per litre reduction implemented in March failed to halt price rises.

Figures from data firm Experian show the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p.

The Government said while it understands people are struggling with rising prices and have a right to protest, "people's day-to-day lives should not be disrupted" and warned that traffic delays "will only add to fuel use".

Mr Cox said: "I totally support their protest because people have reached the end of their tethers at the moment."

He said other countries had cut fuel duty by more than the UK and asked "why the hell are we not doing it here?"

Read more: When will petrol prices come down in the UK? And why are they rising again?

Mr Cox called for a cut of at least 20p, and warned that protests will continue if not.

He said: "There is an appetite (for such protest). If the Government don't actually deliver on this, I think there's going to be some serious escalation of protests."

Gwent Police said protests are expected to take place on the road network between 7am and 7pm on Monday.

Bristol Airport advised travellers to allow extra time for their journeys.

In a tweet, the airport said: "Please note that there is a planned fuel protest to block the River Severn Bridge crossings this Monday July 4 from 8.30am.

"The protest will likely affect the M5, M4 and the two crossings to Wales. Please allow extra time if travelling to or from the airport."

Essex Police Chief Inspector Anna Granger said her officers "are experienced at dealing with incidents which cause significant disruption".

She said: "We will be monitoring the situation closely and have a policing operation in place to limit disruption."

Gloucestershire Police said protests are likely to affect the A48, causing travel disruption in the Gloucester and Forest of Dean areas.

A Government spokesperson said: "While we respect the right to protest, people's day-to-day lives should not be disrupted, especially on busy motorways where lives are put at risk and resulting traffic delays will only add to fuel use.

"The new Public Order Bill will make it a criminal offence to glue yourself to a dangerous motorway, which sees police spending hours trying to safely remove people."