Climate Group Insulate Britain Blocks Two UK Motorways

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
October 1, 2021 Updated: October 1, 2021

Climate activists from Insulate Britain on Friday morning blocked two UK motorways in their 10th day of protests in the past three weeks.

The group said approximately 30 of its activists blocked the M4 at Junction 3, near Heathrow Airport, and the M1 at Junction 1, at Brent Cross, north London.

Insulate Britain said the demonstrators include eight people released from police custody on Thursday after blocking the M25 at Junction 30 in Essex, and others who were arrested earlier this week.

“We are going nowhere: actions will continue until the government make [sic] a statement to insulate Britain’s 29 million leaky homes,” the group said on Twitter.

Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, has been demanding that the government insulate all homes across the UK to cut carbon emissions.

After the group repeatedly shut down parts of M25, the UK’s busiest motorway, last month, the government obtained an injunction against the protests and warned that activists would face possible imprisonment if they made further such attempts.

But the group disregarded the injunction and further escalated their protests by blocking the Port of Dover in southeast England, the busiest ferry port in Europe, on Sept 24.

This week, the activists increased the frequency of their actions and blocked the M25 on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Sir Stephen House, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said on Thursday that he was concerned police forces are under so much pressure to quickly clear the protests that “officers are putting their lives at risk.”

“The most recent one I saw had officers running between articulated lorries that were moving on the main carriageway of the M25. We cannot be doing that. We cannot put people’s lives at risk. My officers’ lives at risk and indeed the demonstrators’ lives at risk,” he told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.

“They started off on the slip roads, which is bad enough, but we’ve now moved on to the main carriageways of the M25, which is absolute lunacy,” he added.

The government said on Wednesday that legal proceedings had begun against green activists who had been arrested for blocking motorways.

But police have said it is “very difficult” to bring charges against the offenders.

Lisa Townsend, police and crime commissioner for Surrey, which has also been affected by the road-blocking protests in recent weeks, said on Wednesday that her inbox had been inundated with emails from local residents asking: “How are these people being arrested only to be released to do it again?”

“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. And if they try to elevate the charge to a more serious one, they are finding it is not reaching the necessary threshold,” she explained.

PA contributed to this report.