Insulate Britain activists have switched up their protest tactics by walking towards oncoming traffic on the M25.
The group said the decision to stop sitting in the middle of roads to block vehicles had been made following “feedback” that many drivers were frustrated by their actions.
Demonstrations took place in both Essex and Hertfordshire, with around 20 arrests made on Friday.
At around 8.30am protesters briefly entered the carriageway near junction 28 and 29 of the motorway, intending to walk down the white lines marking traffic lanes.
But Essex Police said officers arrived at the scene “swiftly” and 10 activists were removed from the road and arrested, with both carriageways reopening within 30 minutes.
Demonstrators later began walking along the white lines of the motorway at Junctions 21 and 22.
🦺Two further groups of walkers have joined Insulate Britain on the M25 this morning after calling off their earlier plans due to safety concerns
— Insulate Britain (@InsulateLove) October 29, 2021
The new tactics have been deployed for the group’s 17th day of action, the last of which saw protesters have ink thrown in their faces by angry motorists.
A spokesperson for the group, who gave his name as Biff, said safety was “paramount” and the protests would not have proceeded if cars did not slow down sufficiently.
“The intention is to enter the carriageway and walk towards the oncoming traffic along the white lines,” he told the PA news agency prior to the protest.
“If cars don’t slow down and are hurtling along at full speed then we will be on the hard shoulder wearing our hi-vis with the banners.
“We would hope that it slows down anyway.
“We’ve had feedback that people are frustrated that they spent time in traffic queues.
We are on scene of disruption on the #M25
We received a call at 8am that a number of people were blocking the road between Junction 28 and 29
Officers are already on scene and the southbound track has been reopened
We’ll bring you more information when we have it pic.twitter.com/9E0MhVCHXz
— Essex Police (@EssexPoliceUK) October 29, 2021
“This is like a rolling traffic queue, so we’ll move, and once they get to the front they will be able to move on.
“We’re not planning to stop traffic but it could slow down to five miles an hour.”
Insulate Britain acknowledged it is knowingly breaching a High Court injunction that aims to prevent its disruptive activities.
Those who break the injunctions could be found in contempt of court and face a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
Activists have now blocked roads on 17 days since September 13, causing misery for drivers stuck in long queues of traffic.
Following Friday’s demonstration, Essex Police Chief Inspector 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.
“I’d like to thank road users today for their patience and understanding.
“You’ve helped us to clear the area quickly, to keep people safe, minimise disruption, and keep Essex moving.
“We will continue to deal with these incidents robustly.”
Hertfordshire Police said nine people had also been arrested following the incident near Bricket Wood.
Superintendent Sue Jameson said the force had plans in place to help to arrest activists “as quickly as we can”.
“These protesters have made it clear that they intend to continue causing disruption nationally,” she said.
“We are working closely with our partners and neighbouring police forces around the whole of the M25 to ensure that the police response is co-ordinated to these recent protests, which have been spontaneous in nature.
“Please be assured that a full investigation is under way and we are working as quickly as possible alongside the CPS and other affected forces to build up the required evidence in each case.”