Insulate Britain Protestors Jailed

Some of the Insulate Britain protestors who have been blocking motorways and main roads across the UK have been jailed for breaching court injunctions. That includes 9 activists who were jailed for between 3 months and 6 months after they made it clear that they might repeat their actions.

The judge said that although there is a right to make peaceful protests. “Ordinary members of the public have rights too, including the right to use the highways”.

The defendants have also been ordered to pay National Highways legal costs which were originally estimated to be £91,000 but were reduced by the court to £45,000, i.e. £5,000 per defendant. How some of them will pay those charges is not clear.

These protests are costing the police many millions of pounds for which there is no justification at all, while road users have suffered similar costs in delays. It seems likely legal actions will be pursued over other similar protests. Let us hope these penalties will persuade Insulate Britain to think again over their campaign.

Comment: Peaceful protest to bring the concerns of activists to the general public is one thing. But when they deliberately obstruct other people going about their legitimate business it is another thing altogether and obstructing roads is clearly an offence. Such behaviour should not be tolerated and penalties should be made more severe if these protests continue.

Roger Lawson

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Eco Mob Blocks London Main Roads

This morning Insulate Britain protestors blocked the Blackwall Tunnel, Hangar Lane, Arnos Grove and Wandsworth Bridge, causing chaos during Monday’s rush hour. It resulted in angry scenes with motorists – see https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/insulate-britain-london-a12-chaos/

This is yet another selfish action by such demonstrators. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said this over the weekend: “Recent weeks have demonstrated that the police need stronger powers to tackle those who illegally block motorways. Conservatives will introduce new laws to lock perpetrators up for 6 months, and face unlimited fines. We will not stand by while motorists are held hostage”.

The sooner such laws are introduced, the better, But clearly they need to cover all roads, not just motorways.  

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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M25 Blocked by Protestors – Cost: £1 million and More

Yesterday (13/9/2021) the M25 was blocked in several places by protestors claiming to be from a group called “Insulate Britain”. This is a new group wanting to persuade the Government to pay to insulate all Britain’s homes but they look very much like a front for Extinction Rebellion (XR) . For example they are not doing it to save residents money by cutting heating bills. Their web site says it is “part of a just transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy”. In other words it’s an organisation that is focussed on CO2 emissions and alleged global warming. They presumably think it is more palatable to the general public, particularly those who live in social housing, to promote this rather than the normal XR agenda.

This demonstration was well organised in advance with media representatives in attendance. It closed several sections of the M25 for several hours before the police managed to remove them. Over 90 arrests were made but will they be charged and significant penalties imposed? It seems unlikely.

The M25 takes as many as 200,000 vehicles per day and Monday morning is one of the busiest times. So this hold up could have delayed 100,000 people as well as having a wider impact on the road network as drivers diverted. At a cost of £10 per hour that could mean a cost of over £1 million imposed on innocent people. Plus of course the cost of the police time involved in the events. Surely the culprits should be made to pay that and more? See Reference 2 below for Daily Mail coverage of the demonstrations.

Some people stuck in the traffic queues attempted to remove the protestors but were stopped by the police from interfering. Yet again the police are shown to be toothless in preventing obstruction of the highway which is against the law. See Reference 1 below for previous comments on why the police do nothing.

There is currently a Bill passing through Parliament (see Reference 3) which will make it easier for police to take action to prevent similar demonstration. It is surely long overdue.

But will it solve the problem? Not if the penalties for causing such disruption are so trivial. As financial penalties are no deterrent to the type of people involved in these events, a lengthy spell in prison (and not suspended sentences) are surely the only answer.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2018/12/19/demonstrations-blocking-roads-and-why-the-police-do-nothing/

Reference 2: Daily Mail article on the M25 demonstrations: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9984953/Motorists-clash-Insulate-Britain-climate-activists-blocking-M25.html

Reference 3: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-protest-powers-factsheet

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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