The UK government has taken out a nationwide interim injunction to prevent climate activists blocking any main road in the country. The measure is intended to help stop campaign group Insulate Britain’s attempts to block roads and disrupt traffic in a bid to make its message heard.
In recent months, Insulate Britain activists have blocked roads around London and elsewhere in south-east England as part of a “non-violent civil resistance” campaign. The government has already taken out injunctions to prevent protesters blocking the M25 motorway and roads around Dover, although Insulate Britain has wantonly and openly defied the injunctions.
On Monday, October 25, the government-run National Highways, which is in charge of the country’s motorways and major A-roads, confirmed it had been granted an “interim injunction” to prevent protesters blocking any major route or motorway. That means Insulate Britain’s activists have essentially been banned from 4,300 miles of arterial route in the UK.
The injunction also bans activities that cause damage to the road surface and infrastructure, as well as prohibiting activists from gluing themselves to the road or abandoning their vehicles. Anyone who breaches this injunction could face imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, while activists who are found to be in contempt of court may also be forced to repay the costs of their case.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new injunction was an “immediate” measure to tackle disruption, but claimed the long-term solution would come as part of the Home Secretary’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which includes prison sentences of up to six months for anyone obstructing a highway.
“We are making use of every avenue of existing law to try to prevent the continued life-endangering action being carried out by Insulate Britain, which is causing intolerable disruption to motorists’ lives and livelihoods,” said Shapps. “This new interim injunction will ban activities that obstruct motorways and major A roads across the entire country.
“On top of the immediate measures we’re taking, the long-term solution lies in the changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which were set out by the Home Secretary, giving additional powers against disruptive protests which target critical national infrastructure. This includes unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 6 months for obstructing highways.”
Despite the injunction, however, Insulate Britain activists blocked roads again on Wednesday, October 27. The group said it had declared the M25 a site of non-violent civil resistance, and would “return to the roads at the earliest opportunity” until the government meets its demands to ensure homes across the country are properly insulated to protect the environment.