M25 protests: Thirty-eight arrested as Insulate Britain group blocks motorway for fifth time

·3 min read

Thirty-eight people have been arrested after climate protesters from the Insulate Britain group attempted to block the M25 for a fifth time.

Surrey Police said people had made in onto the clockwise and anticlockwise carriageways between junction 9 and 10 of the M25.

Pictures show lorries and cars backed up as the protesters blocked their path.

The protest was reported at around 8am, with officers arriving within three minutes.

Both carriageways were blocked, but by 8.17am all the protesters had been removed and the roads were reopened.

Surrey Police said: "The protesters made their way onto both the anti-clockwise and clockwise carriageways of the motorway but by 8.15am, all protesters had cleared from the anti-clockwise carriageway and it had been fully reopened.

"Within another two minutes (8.17am), the protesters had been removed from the clockwise carriageway, which was also subsequently reopened".

Officers arrested 38 people on suspicion of offences including criminal damage, causing danger to road users, wilful obstruction of the highway and causing a public nuisance.

Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman sought to reassure the public that police would continue to operate a "quick and effective response".

"Protesters have put their own lives, as well as those of others, at risk by walking onto both carriageways of the M25 during rush hour traffic," he said.

"Fortunately, we were on scene within three minutes of the first call coming in and took swift and robust action to ensure protesters were removed from both carriageways after they ignored our requests to move on peacefully."

The chief superintendent appealed for anyone with video or dashcam footage to urgently share it with police.

Downing Street has backed "swift action" against the protesters, saying the forthcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give police "the tools they need to address this problem".

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The police have our full support in taking swift action.

"That kind of disruption is dangerous and takes police away from communities where they are needed most."

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is controversial because of its measures aimed at curbing protests.

The new law will help "police better manage demonstrations so that legitimate groups can make their voices heard without disrupting the lives and livelihoods of others", the spokesman said.

Insulate Britain claimed "new people" had joined Tuesday's protest, along with some from previous actions.

"We have seen no evidence that the cause of Insulating Britain has been a set back, as suggested yesterday by the prime minister," the group said on its website.

"Due to Insulate Britain's actions, the plan to insulate the nation's homes has entered the national debate.

"The recent extreme rise in gas and electricity costs has increased the urgency of Insulate Britain's demands. Boris, get on with the job!"

Demonstrators are calling on the government to insulate all of "Britain's 29 million leaky homes by 2030 and all social housing by 2025".

Spokesperson Liam Norton added: "The idea that people would suddenly decide insulating our leaky homes is a bad idea as a result of our campaign is frankly laughable.

"We are simply asking the government to get on the job. The people of Britain understand that climate change is a severe threat to everything they hold dear."

On Monday, 41 people more people were arrested over similar protests around the M25.

The activists "profoundly apologise" for the disruption, according to an open letter to the home secretary.

The group has written to Priti Patel asking for "open dialogue", but has said it has not received a response.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the protesters "detract from a very important moral mission" widely shared by the nation.

He said the group did not do "any favours to their cause" by blocking roads.

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