Insulate Britain protesters have been arrested walking on to the M25 in several locations, causing major disruption on London’s orbital motorway days before the start of the Cop26 climate summit.
In driving rain just after 8am on Friday, two groups affiliated with the climate activist movement walked between lanes of oncoming traffic at junctions 28 and 29 of the M25 in Essex.
Just before 10.30am, another two groups, who had been delayed by the poor weather, walked on to the motorway between junctions 21 and 22 in Hertfordshire, Insulate Britain said. The protesters have previously used superglue to stick themselves to roads, however wet weather conditions would have made that difficult on this occasion.
Nineteen protesters were arrested in total. Their actions were in defiance of a series of injunctions that have banned them from protesting anywhere on England’s “strategic road network”.
Insulate Britain said the action came after the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, failed to use the word “climate” once during his autumn budget speech on Wednesday.
Liam Norton, a spokesperson for the group, said: “In a couple of days Cop26 will start in Glasgow and the eyes of the world will be on this country. Britain should be leading the world with radical plans to decarbonise our society.
“What we have instead is a budget that is yet another act of treason by this government upon its own people. It is a plan that facilitates mass murder. The citizens of this country should be in open revolt. We need change and we need it quickly.”
Essex police said its officers had made ten arrests. Ch Insp Lee Devall said: “Not only will incidents of this nature be frustrating for road users trying to reach their destination, walking into fast moving traffic is extremely dangerous.”
Hertfordshire constabulary said nine people had been arrested by 10.49am. Supt Sue Jameson said: “These protesters have made it clear that they intend to continue causing disruption nationally. We have robust plans in place in order to minimise any disruption and to allow us to make arrests as quickly as we can.”
Friday’s protests were the 16th time Insulate Britain has taken action on roads in and around London since beginning its campaign on 13 September to urge the government to fit insulation to every home in the country by 2030.
On Thursday, the group’s fundraising campaign was pulled by the crowdfunder website after pressure from sections of the British media. According to an Insulate Britain spokesperson, however, it was still able to draw on more than GBP60,000 in donations already made through the site.