'Cut motorway speed limit so we can block road', demand M25 protesters

·3-min read
Insulate Britain  - Jeff Gilbert
Insulate Britain - Jeff Gilbert

Protesters have asked for the motorway speed limit to be cut to accommodate their demonstrations ahead of further action on the M25 on Monday. 

Members of Insulate Britain brought chaos to the motorway last week, blocking it on three separate occasions.

They have vowed to return to the M25 from 7am on Monday, amid fears that the campaign will last for weeks or even months.

The group said they had written to National Highways, formerly the Highways Agency, to request that the traffic is slowed down on the parts of the M25 where they were protesting.

Watch: Climate protesters block access to M25 for the fourth time in a week

Frustrated that a similar request was ignored last week, they wrote: “Insulate Britain are asking the Highways Agency to review their previous decision not to reduce speed limits, even though they had been made aware that major disruption will be taking place. 

“Given that this is a standard safety procedure when hazards occur on the motorway, Insulate Britain is surprised it has not formed part of the response to the campaign.”

They added: “People’s safety during this campaign has always been our primary objective.”

National Highways regional director Nicola Bell said: "Our road network is integral for our customers’ journeys and is the backbone of the country’s economy; connecting people, building communities and helping people go about their daily lives.

"Our primary concern is always safety, but changing speed limits in advance of any incident creates a far greater risk to the wider travelling public.”

Police chiefs came under fire last week after videos emerged appearing to show officers facilitating the protests rather than arresting the activists.

Activists who were arrested simply returned to block the road again as soon as they were released from custody.

The police are understood to be reluctant to prosecute the activists for relatively minor offences, such as blocking the highway, because the sentences available are unlikely to act as a deterrent.

Instead senior officers from Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Essex and the Met have been exploring whether they can bring more serious charges, including conspiracy to cause public nuisance.

Roger Hallam, the mastermind of the Insulate Britain group, is hoping that scores of activists are jailed in the run up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, in order to humiliate Boris Johnson, it has been claimed.

The co-founder of Extinction Rebellion is said to have told supporters earlier this year: “The whole world's going to be looking at Johnson and saying ‘You're Mr Green and you've got 200 people in prison because they want you to insulate some houses?’ It's not going to look good.”

Insulate Britain is demanding that the government "immediately promise to fully fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025".

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "We consider their actions to be unreasonable and unsafe highway obstruction and we will respond as quickly as possible and robustly to any incidents of this nature."

Watch: Police swoop on M25 protesters

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