The Government has taken out a fresh injunction aimed at preventing climate activists from blocking roads.
Theâ¯new injunction bansâ¯protesters from Insulate Britain from obstructingâ¯trafficâ¯andâ¯access to motorways and major A Roads in and around London.
It states the activists must not cause damage to the road surface and infrastructure – and also bans them from using tactics like gluing themselves to the road or abandoning their vehicles.
The crackdown, which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said will cover “every major road and motorway linked to the M25 is covered by this injunction to help prevent further disruption”, comes after Insulate Britain blocked three motorway junctions in London on Friday.
Anyone who breaks the injunction faces imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Activists found in contempt of court may also be forced to repay the costs of their case.
Under the new legal order, the police will now be able to release information and evidence on the activists to National Highways so that the injunctions can be enforced.
This will speed up the enforcement process and ensure that those who disobey the authority of the courts face the consequences, according to the Department for Transport.
Mr Shapps said: “We willâ¯continue to do all we can to prevent this self-defeating, disruptive and incredibly dangerous behaviourâ¯being carried out byâ¯Insulate Britain. They are putting lives in danger and damaging their own cause.”
He added: “Activists are being tracked down and served court papers and will now face justice. We will take the strongest action against anyone else who decides to take part in this ridiculous and irresponsible action.”
A High Court injunction prohibiting people from blocking the M25 was obtained by National Highways last week, but that has not stopped Insulate Britain.
On Friday, activists sat on the road at Junction 3 of the M4 near Heathrow Airport, Junction 1 of the M1 at Brent Cross and Junction 25 of the M25 at Waltham Cross, north London.
This was the 10th day in the past three weeks that the group has carried out protests.
It has blocked motorways on nine days, while on September 24 it obstructed A roads near the Port of Dover in Kent.
There were 39 people arrested on suspicion of obstruction and conspiracy to commit public nuisance on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said.
Protests on the M4 and M1 began shortly after 8.30am and were cleared by 9am and 10am respectively.
The M25 demonstration started at around 10.30am, with some people gluing their hands to the road while others chained themselves together. They were cleared by 11.50am.
Drivers who were stuck in long queues beeped their horns in frustration.
National Highways regional director Nicola Bell described the new injunctionâ¯as “another step forward in helping to keep these reckless and dangerous protests away from our network and endangering peoples’ lives”.
She added: “We continue to serve court papers on those who have breached the previous injunctions, and repeat offenders will soon be receiving a court summons. People who breach the injunctions face imprisonment or an unlimited fine.”
National Highways has already taken out two injunctions to prevent action along the M25 and on the major roads around the Port of Dover.
Ms Bell described these measures as a short-term solution to tackle the disruptive protests and said the Government is committed to legislating to prevent these tactics in the future through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.