Climate activists Insulate Britain have blocked part of the M25 motorway for a sixth time despite an interim injunction. The climate activists have already obstructed the motorway, which acts as a ring road around London, multiple times, causing what the government called “travel chaos”.
Insulate Britain is a group calling for action on home insulation, urging the government to fund the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025 and produce a “legally binding national plan” for a retrofit of all homes by 2030. As part of its campaign, the group called on members to take part in “civil resistance”, blocking sections of the M25 to ensure its message is heard.
According to Insulate Britain, the protests saw 338 people arrested as of September 21, with the M25 blocked a total of five times. But National Highways, the government-run company in charge of the country’s motorways, said its “interim injunction” will mean protesters would be in contempt of court if they block the road again, facing a maximum prison sentence of up to two years and an unlimited fine.
The organisation has also extended the injunction to include the A20 and the Port of Dover, in Kent, where Insulate Britain also blocked the road. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the protests were “self-defeating”, serving only to increase traffic and pollution, while also “alienating” the public.
“We will not let these demonstrators wreak havoc on our roads, disrupt thousands of people’s journeys and put lives in danger,” he said. “Not only are they creating more traffic and pollution, they are alienating the public from their own cause. 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.”
However, Insulate Britain spokesperson Liam Norton said the protests were an attempt to hurry along government policy, and claimed the public would not turn against the campaign’s goals as a result of the action.
“The idea that people would suddenly decide insulating our leaky homes is a bad idea as a result of our campaign is frankly laughable,” he said. “We are simply asking the government to get on with the job. The people of Britain understand that climate change is a severe threat to everything they hold dear. They are looking to the government for leadership. We have a practical solution and have received encouragement for our aims from many construction industry professionals.”
Now, despite the legal ramifications, the climate group blocked the M25 again on September 27, admitting its activists were in breach of the injunction. In a press statement, Norton said inflicting punishments would only be “shooting the messenger”.
“You can throw as many injunctions at us as you like, but we are going nowhere,” he said. “You can raid our savings and confiscate our property. You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars. But that is only shooting the messenger. The truth is that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air.”