Eco protesters wander down M25 towards oncoming traffic in latest demonstration

29 October 2021, 13:25 | Updated: 29 October 2021, 13:55

By Daisy Stephens

Eco protestors from Insulate Britain returned to the M25 today, wandering down the hard shoulder next to oncoming traffic and bringing the motorway to a standstill.

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Two groups of 'walkers' from Insulate Britain protested along the white lines of the M25 hard shoulder between junctions 21 and 22 in Hertfordshire.

The group posted a video to Twitter, showing protesters holding a banner, with cars passing close by at motorway speeds.

Protesters walk down the M25. Earlier they blocked the motorway between junction 28 and 29
Protesters walk down the M25. Earlier they blocked the motorway between junction 28 and 29. Picture: Insulate Britain

Hertfordshire Police confirmed they were on the scene and said a number of people had been arrested.

Eco protesters blocked the M25 between junction 28 and 29 earlier on Friday, just hours after telling a court they felt "bullied" by the legal system.

A total of 14 protesters from Insulate Britain walked down the white lines between the lanes of the M25 in several locations, the group said - a different tactic to their usual technique of sitting in the middle of roads to block traffic.

The group said they changed their methods slightly following "feedback" that many drivers were frustrated by their actions.

But long tailbacks were still caused by today's protests, and photos also show protesters sitting on the carriageway.

Essex Police responded quickly and both carriageways were cleared within 30 minutes.

A total of 10 people were arrested.

The protest, which the group say is their 16th, follows the announcement of Rishi Sunak's budget on Wednesday in which he cut the rate of air passenger duty on domestic flights and froze fuel duty for the 12th year running.

Tracey Malligan from Insulate Britain said she 'wished' she did not have to be there but said the impending climate crisis was too important to ignore.

"I wish I didn't have to cause disruption but nonviolent civil resistance is the only thing that will get the job done," she said.

"Within a few years, we will face rising levels of disruption, chaos and tragedy.

"Extreme weather, floods and crop failure are just the start.

She said the Government did not have the public's best interests at heart and called for people to join their cause, saying: "Its black and white - we either resist this criminality or we are complicit in it."

Liam Norton from Insulate Britain said: "In a couple of days COP 26 will start in Glasgow and the eyes of the world will be on this country.

"Britain should be leading the world with radical plans to decarbonise our society.

"What we have instead is a budget that is yet another act of treason by this government upon its own people.

"It is a plan that facilitates mass murder. The citizens of this country should be in open revolt. We need change and we need it quickly."

In a tweet, Essex Police said: "We are on scene of disruption on the #M25.

"We received a call at 8am that a number of people were blocking the road between Junction 28 and 29.

"Officers are already on scene and the southbound track has been reopened.

"We’ll bring you more information when we have it."

Tensions have been building at Insulate Britain's previous 16 days of protests, that have seen motorists deliberately drive into protestors.

A spokesperson for the group, who gave his name as Biff, said safety was "paramount" and the protests would not have proceeded if cars did not slow down sufficiently.

"The intention is to enter the carriageway and walk towards the oncoming traffic along the white lines," he said before Friday's protest.

"If cars don't slow down and are hurtling along at full speed then we will be on the hard shoulder wearing our hi-vis with the banners.

"We would hope that it slows down anyway.

He added: "We've had feedback that people are frustrated that they spent time in traffic queues.

"This is like a rolling traffic queue, so we'll move, and once they get to the front they will be able to move on.

"We're not planning to stop traffic but it could slow down to five miles an hour."

At a hearing over an extension to an injunction that bans their protests, one of the group declared the legal system was "unfair" and "bullying".

They also argued that other protest groups hadn't been "singled out" by the legal system in the same way as them.

Read more: Eco protesters tell court they feel 'bullied' as £900k cost of blockades is revealed

Insulate Britain acknowledged it was knowingly breaching the High Court injunction.

Those who break the injunctions could be found in contempt of court and face a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed yesterday that the injunction had been extended until November 11.

He tweeted: "UPDATE: High Court has today maintained our interim injunction covering 100% strategic road network until Nov 11th + police may now share data w/ @NationalHways on arrested activists.

"We're using all available avenues of existing law to stop Insulate Britain's dangerous actions!"