Government takes legal action against M25 climate protesters

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Activists who have been carrying out a string of disruptive demonstrations along the M25, causing travel chaos for tens of thousands of people, will be in contempt of court if they breach the terms of an interim injunction won by National Highways today (22 September 2021).

Key points:

  • National Highways wins interim injunction to prevent protesters from occupying the M25
  • those who breach the injunction will be in contempt of court and at risk of imprisonment and an unlimited fine
  • ministers condemn activists for undermining their own cause and endangering lives

Breach of the injunction can be punishable by up to 2 years in prison and an unlimited fine, serving as a deterrent for anyone thinking of rejoining the disruptive action.

National Highways intends to return to court to extend the injunction and potentially seek additional powers of arrest.

The government’s intervention will help dissuade activists from carrying out any further disruption.

Campaign group Insulate Britain’s recent demonstrations have led to considerable disruption on one of the UK’s busiest motorways – creating a backlog of traffic and more pollution – as well as blocking the emergency services from reaching those whose lives are in danger.

Over 200 people involved with the demonstrations have already been arrested and previous actions of Extinction Rebellion – of which Insulate Britain is an offshoot – have cost the UK taxpayer £50 million.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We will not let these demonstrators wreak havoc on our roads, disrupt thousands of people’s journeys and put lives in danger. Not only are they creating more traffic and pollution, they are alienating the public from their own cause.

“Today, we’re taking action, bringing in further measures to stop those taking part in these self-defeating protests, while we continue the work we’re already carrying out to clean up our air and reach net zero.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This injunction is an important step in stopping these activists putting lives needlessly at risk on our busy roads.

“Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for people to make their voices heard. It cannot be at the expense of public safety.

“The police have our full support in cracking down on this reckless behaviour.”

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “These protests have endangered the lives of road users and the police officers who have responded quickly and responsibly.

“The police should be fighting crime in our neighbourhoods, not chasing activists across busy motorways. This is why we are taking this action now and we’ll be working with National Highways on a full injunction.”

The campaign Insulate Britain, which is behind the protests, says: “Insulate Britain wrote to the Home Secretary but has received no response. We are asking for the government to commit to insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030, and all social housing by 2025. As soon as we hear a meaningful commitment that we can trust, we will end the campaign.”

The government says it is already ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030, investing billions of pounds to help industry and drivers make the switch to cleaner vehicles, and will continue its work to install thousands of chargepoints and boost the development of new technologies to meet ambitious net zero goals.

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