Eco-mob block J30 of M25: Insulate Britain launch EIGHTH day of protests by blocking Thurrock junction
Eco-protesters caused mayhem on the M25 by blockading it yet again today – the eighth day they have disrupted the motorway in the past two-and-a-half weeks.
Nine activists from Insulate Britain were arrested after targeting junction 30 near Thurrock in Essex from about 8am as they continued to defy a High Court injunction.
It meant hundreds of drivers were once again caught in huge tailbacks, while already contending with the fuel supply crisis which has led to panic buying of petrol.
Furious motorists including lorry drivers sounded horns as nine activists blocked the traffic and glued their hands to the floor, before police arrived at a few minutes later.
Officers initially arrested three people so traffic from one lane could start moving, before arresting a further six who had been glued to the road and each other.
Activists from the Insulate Britain group target junction 30 near Thurrock in Essex today
Officers arrest three people at Thurrock today so traffic from one lane can start moving
The protest came one day after Insulate Britain targeted the Swanley interchange in Kent at junction three twice yesterday – blocking it at 7.40am and then again at 1pm.
The protesters were banned last week from ‘blocking, endangering, slowing down, preventing, or obstructing the free flow of traffic onto or along or off the M25’.
Breaches of the injunction are punishable by up to two years in jail or an unlimited fine. The Government has insisted that action is being taken against the protesters.
An Essex Police spokesman said: ‘We are currently on scene of disruption on the M25 at junction 30 for Thurrock. We were called to reports of people blocking the road.
Motorists including lorry drivers sound horns as nine activists block the M25 at Thurrock today
Six activists remain glued to the road at Thurrock this morning while police wait for backup
‘Officers responded within minutes. We are currently working to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible.’
Ten minutes later, they added: ‘Nine people have been arrested on suspicion of obstruction of highway. We are working to get the road re-opened and traffic flowing again as soon as possible.’
Insulate Britain: A timeline of M25 chaos
September 13 – 78 Insulate Britain protesters are arrested after blocking junctions 3, 6, 14, 20 and 31 of the M25
September 15 – More than 50 protesters are arrested after targeting junctions 1, 8, 9 and 23 of the M25.
September 17 – 48 protesters are arrested after targeting junctions 3, 9 and 28 of the M25, as well as the M3
September 20 – 29 protesters are arrested after blocking the M25 at two locations, as well as the A1
September 21 – Protesters risk death by running into moving traffic to block the main carriageway near Junction 10. Some 38 arrests are made. National Highways obtains an injunction against further protests on the M25
September 22 – Protesters burn copies of the injunction outside the Home Office, blocking the road outside the ministry. No arrests are made
September 24 – 39 protesters are arrested after blocking roads at three locations in Dover. They are all released under investigation. National Highways obtains a second injunction covering Dover
September 27 – 53 protesters are arrested for blocking a slip road at Junction 14 of the M25. They are all released under investigation.
September 28 – National Highways says it is taking ‘legal advice’ over how to enforce its injunction
September 29 – 27 protesters are arrested for blocking a roundabout at Junction 3 of the M25 on two separate occasions
September 30 – Protesters return to junction 30 at Thurrock in Essex, and nine are arrested
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are already knocking on doors and serving papers to offenders who will be sent to court and could face fines or prison.
‘Police continue making arrests and are working closely with National Highways to shut down these illegal demonstrations and keep the public safe.’
Authorities hoped the High Court injunction would act as a deterrent but many of the activists say they would be happy to go to prison for their beliefs.
Bosses at National Highways said they were ‘working with the police to establish names of the protestors and if they have been previously arrested’.
But Lee Anderson, the Conservative MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, urged National Highways to ‘get a grip’ and seek action against any activists who breach the injunction.
He said: ‘They have been given the tools they need and need to get on with the job and sort these people out. They need to get a grip and go to court so the full force of the law can be delivered.
‘These hypocritical activists are being allowed to cause mayhem – and it wouldn’t be permitted in any other country in Europe.’
Mr Anderson dubbed the protesters ‘morons’ in a Commons debate last week and said they should be ‘carted off in an electric police van and locked up in a fully insulated cell’.
Hugh Bladon, from Alliance of British Drivers, commented: ‘There is no point in having this injunction if we are not going to pursue people who are breaking it; that is the rule of law – they have the injunction so they should bl**dy well use it and get these people off the roads. The protestors are making a mockery of the justice system of this country.’
The High Court is also able to investigate breaches of injunctions ‘on its own initiative’, meaning that a judge could potentially haul in the protestors to court himself.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps met officials yesterday to discuss ‘ramping up’ the response, according to a Whitehall source.
The source said: ‘Ministers recognised that the British public are getting increasingly angry at the dangerous and thoughtless behaviour of a selfish minority intent on repeatedly causing disruption on major roads. It is a sentiment they share.’
Yesterday: Insulate Britain activists block the road near junction three of the M25 near Swanley
Yesterday: An angry motorist drags away an activist from the protest at junction three in Kent
Ms Patel is understood to want ‘swift’ action. Options could include further injunctions or other types of powers.
Arrested for a SIXTH time after being repeatedly let go: Eco-hypocrite property tycoon among repeated offenders laughing at the law
Joshua Smith has now been arrested six times. He was branded a hypocrite after it emerged he owned a multi-million pound property empire – but the homes had poor insulation, an issue at the heart of the group’s agenda.
The 28-year-old is heir to a £2million property empire and also has a seven-figure portfolio of his own. However, at least six homes owned by his Oldham-based company have efficiency ratings of E or F, according to the Sun.
This means the properties boast little or no insulation and also produce large quantities of extra carbon dioxide. Smith was pictured being held by police by the M25 yesterday before being led off in a police van.
Reverend Hewes, who once sewed up his lips in protest at the influence of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was part of the mob blocking the M25 yesterday despite already being arrested numerous times.
The activist has ‘permission to officiate’ in the Diocese of Oxford although he does not have a parish.
Asked about Rev Hewes last week, a spokesman for the diocese said: ‘The actions of Rev Hewes and others, while arguably well-intentioned, have frustrated many people and we’re unclear how the actions have been productive in encouraging the urgent change required.’
Rev Hewes, a retired dentist, previously said the Bishop of Dorchester, Gavin Collins, who comes under the Diocese of Oxford, had told him ‘he does support issues regarding climate change and the environment but not about breaking the law’.
The terms of the current injunction could also be changed so it does not have to be served on each activist individually, it is understood.
A Government source said: ‘The contemptible antics of Insulate Britain are no laughing matter for the law-abiding majority whose daily lives are being impacted by their obstructive behaviour.
‘Across government we are working through the legal and legislative avenues available to ensure that these nonsensical demonstrations can be halted and the judgements of our courts respected.
‘Legal, peaceful demonstrations remain a cornerstone of our democracy, but occupying motorways and major roads, putting lives at risk and causing untold harm, is totally unacceptable.
‘The public expect us to ensure that the authorities have the necessary powers to clamp down on these protests and we will.’
An Insulate Britain spokesman said: ‘We are going nowhere. You can raid our savings. You can confiscate our property. You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars.
‘But shooting the messenger can never destroy the message: that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air.’
The group, which wants better home insulation to save energy, began targeting the M25 on September 13.
Activists yesterday welcomed a pledge by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to insulate every home that needs it in Britain over the next decade.
One woman glued to the road said: ‘That’s excellent news. Let’s get the Labour Party in.
‘It would cut UK emissions by 15 per cent, it’s the easiest thing to do.’
Another woman added: ‘When will the Conservatives do the same thing?’
Lisa Townsend, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said police forces felt let down by the response to the problem from other parts of the justice system.
Forces have responded more quickly to the protests in recent days, using more force to push them back to roadsides and often reopening affected roads within the hour.
But she said: ‘It has been very difficult for the police because if they charge the protesters with a relatively minor offence, it is likely to be discontinued.
‘If they try to elevate the charge to a more serious one, they are finding it is not reaching the necessary threshold.
‘The public deserves to see a response from all parts of the criminal justice system and it is unfair for the police to be blamed if people do not end up before the courts.’