Insulate Britain campaigners vow to continue to block roads despite court ban

·3-min read

Insulate Britain activists say they will continue to block roads “at the earliest opportunity” if they are not sent to prison.

Nine campaigners appeared at the High Court on Tuesday where they admitted breaching an injunction which banned them from blocking some of the country’s busiest roads.

Insulate Britain began a wave of protests in September, demanding the Government makes plans to insulate Britain’s homes. They blocked roads including areas of the M25, Liverpool Street in central London and roads around the Port of Dover.

The controversial protests saw activists glue themselves to the road before they were removed by police.

Insulate Britain protests
Roman Paluch (Insulate Britain/PA)

Ben Buse, 36, Ana Heyatawin, 58, Louis McKechnie, 20, Roman Paluch, 28, Oliver Roc, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, James Thomas, 47, and Ben Taylor, 27, all said they stood by their actions. They could be facing a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Taylor told the court if he is not in prison he will “go and block the motorway at the earliest opportunity and will continue to do so until the Government makes a meaningful statement and acts on it”.

He added: “If you somehow manage to stop all non-violent protests, then things will only turn violent.”

Smart told the court she was there to “ensure future survival”.

Insulate Britain protests
Police remove a protester in Parliament Square (James Manning/PA)

She said: “I am doing everything I can to protect the most vulnerable people in society. We are all vulnerable in a climate crisis. No-one is immune and no-one is safe.”

She compared watching the climate crisis to seeing a child trapped in a burning house, and added: “I cannot stand by and watch. I would run to them.”

Speers described the country’s democracy as “steeped in lies” and said “good people have a duty to breach bad laws”.

He said: “In this world, those trying to avert catastrophe are vilified. On a tradition of non-violent protest, in response, the Government said they will ‘do everything to we can to stop them.’

“That was from Grant Shapps, who had a second job under another name.”

Roc invited the court to observe a minute’s silence “to imagine what the climate crisis means for the future”.

Insulate Britain protests
Emma Smart (Insulate Britain/PA)

He said: “I’m proud of our actions and I stand by what we have done, we have not done this for personal gain. I take responsibility for my actions and I did that in an attempt to mitigate the suffering of people in this country who cannot afford to adequately heat their homes.”

Myriam Stacey QC, representing National Highways, told the court the message that the defendants are “proud of their conduct” and “will continue to defy the injunction order made” is “loud and clear”.

She added: “No apology has been made in relation to the breach of the order.”

Ms Stacey said the group had emailed National Highways in September saying the protests would continue “unless the Government make a meaningful statement that they will start the process of decarbonising homes in Britain”.

All nine defendants will be sentenced at 10am on Wednesday by Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Chamberlain.

Ms Stacey said further committal proceedings will be issued against other Insulate Britain protesters by the end of the week, relating to protests on October 27. She also said evidence is being gathered to bring proceedings in relation to protests on October 29 and November 2.

So far, 161 people have been involved in the campaign and there have been more than 800 arrests.

The Government plans to introduce new measures to clamp down on protests, including allowing police to stop and search people where there is a reasonable suspicion they are carrying items intended to cause disturbance, such as glue.

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