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M25 traffic protest: Climate campaigners hurting their own cause with blockades, says Boris Johnson

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As climate campaigners blocked the M25 for the fourth time in a week on Monday morning, Boris Johnson accused them of hurting their own cause.

Speaking to reporters en route to New York, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think these people do any favours to their cause. I think what they do is detract from a very important moral mission that is widely shared now by the people of this country.”

Mr Johnson is expected to deliver remarks at the United Nations General Assembly this week, urging world leaders to spend more in the fight against the climate crisis.

Meanwhile, protests staged this morning by Insulate Britain blocking major motorways across the country have been cleared by police, with 29 people arrested in Hertfordshire and 12 arrested in Kent.

Insulate Britain has been campaigning for two policy changes from the government. They want the government to commit to insulating all social housing in Britain by 2025. They also want the government to reduce the effects of climate change, transitioning towards a full decarbonisation of society.

Last week, protests blocked several parts of the M25 in Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire, including Junction 9 in Leatherhead, and Junction 6 in Godstone. Junction 1 of the M3 was also targeted in Sunbury, bringing traffic to a halt on Friday.

The group has said that its actions will continue until the government makes a “meaningful commitment to insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030, which are among the oldest and most energy inefficient in Europe.”

Read More

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Why is the M25 closed? Motorway protests explained

Climate activists disrupt M25 traffic for third time in a week

Key Points

  • Insulate Britain demonstrations resume as protesters block M25

  • 29 arrested in Hertfordshire in road blockades

  • Boris Johnson accuses climate campaigners of hurting their own cause by blocking motorways

Monday 20 September 2021 09:54 , Celine Wadhera

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the M25 protests. Stay tuned for updates.

Protesters block M25 in Rickmansworth

Monday 20 September 2021 10:02 , Celine Wadhera

Monday’s Insulate Britain protests began at Junction 18 of the M25 in Rickmansworth.

At 8am, around 15 protesters wearing orange bibs arrived and blocked the slip road at Junction 18, preventing motorists from commuting to work.

Drivers could be heard angrily honking their horns and yelling at the demonstrators.

LBC reported that one driver told the activists: “I know what you’re fighting, I completely agree, this is a really good idea, but this is not the way to do it.

“You’re causing more pollution with all these cars sitting here just doing f*** all.

“You’re making people hate you. Go and protest London, go down to Downing Street.”

LBC’s Nick Ferrari enraged by Insulate Britain’s M25 blockade

Monday 20 September 2021 10:15 , Celine Wadhera

LBC presenter Nick Ferrari was enraged over Insulate Britain’s demonstrations, blocking the M25 over the past week.

After a caller told LBC that his mother was left partially paralysed from a stroke, after being being delayed by six hours in traffic by climate protesters, Mr Ferrari asked an Insulate Britain spokesperson: “When are you going to stop with these lame apologies and accept this is not the way to protest?”

“That woman effectively dying in front of her son’s eyes is down to you and your colleagues.”

My colleague Ross Martin-Pavitt reports.

Watch: LBC's Nick Ferrari enraged by Insulate Britain's M25 blockade

Police arrest 13 at Junction 18

Monday 20 September 2021 10:21 , Celine Wadhera

Hertfordshire Police were called to Junction 18 of the M25 near Rickmansworth, shortly after 8am to respond to the Insulate Britain protest.

A statement from the Hertfordshire Police said: “Police were called at 8.12am today (Monday 20 September) to reports of protestors near junction 18 (Chorleywood) of the M25, several of which were glued to the carriageway. 13 people have been arrested. The road has been partially re-opened.”

The force added that officers were also called to a separate protest near junction 4 of the Stanborough interchange.

Hertfordshire Police: 29 arrests in relation to the road blockades

Monday 20 September 2021 10:30 , Celine Wadhera

Hertfordshire Police have arrested 29 people this morning in response to Insulate Britain’s road blockades along the M25 and the A1M.

While 13 people were arrested at Junction 18 of the M25, police were also called to a demonstration near Junction 4 of the A1M, where 16 demonstrators were arrested, some of whom they said were “glued to the carriageway”.

Statement from Chief Superintendent Nick Caveney on Insulate Britain Protests

Monday 20 September 2021 10:45 , Celine Wadhera

In response to the Insulate Britain protests blocking the M25 and the A1M this morning, Hertfordshire Chief Superintendent Nick Caveney said that the police were working to “minimise any disruption” caused by the “incredibly dangerous” protests.

“Protestors have made it clear that they intend to continue causing disruption. Not only is purposely blocking a highway incredibly dangerous, it also affects thousands of members of the public who are stuck in delays as a result.

“We have robust plans in place in order to minimise any disruption and to allow us to make arrests as quickly as we possibly can. This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring areas that have been identified as possible protest targets.

“Officers were on the scene within minutes of being alerted to protest activity, allowing us to put diversions in place to ease the traffic and to make numerous arrests. All protestors involved in this morning’s protests have been arrested and will be taken to custody.

“We are working closely with other affected forces to ensure that any further activity is dealt with effectively and efficiently.

“I understand and appreciate the frustration regarding the considerable delays and inconvenience that has occurred as a result of the protests.

“We have now made a total of 76 arrests in relation to protest activity across Hertfordshire over the last week. Please be assured that a full investigation is underway, and we are in the process of gathering evidence in order to ensure that those breaking the law are brought to justice.”

M25 protests: Climate activists block motorway for fourth time in a week

Monday 20 September 2021 11:00 , Celine Wadhera

Climate activists from Insulate Britain continued their demonstration blocking traffic along the M25 this morning, with some protesters gluing themselves to the road.

My colleague Cal Byrne reports.

M25 protests: Climate activists block motorway for fourth time in a week

Transport Secretary criticises protest disrupting the M25

Monday 20 September 2021 11:15 , Celine Wadhera

Transport Secretary Grant Schapps criticised the climate protesters disrupting the M25 on Monday morning.

He told the PA news agency: “I think it’s irresponsible, I think it’s dangerous.

“It’s completely counterproductive as well because they’re actually creating pollution they want to get rid of by having cars standing still, so there’s no justification for that kind of action.

“I call on them to stop and the police to intervene.”

He added that the police would “have to work out their approach and tactics,” to respond to these kinds of demonstrations, adding, “it’s not right for our roads to be blocked for illegal protests like this to take place, and for it to happen repetitively”.

Protesters paint M25 blue in Hertfordshire

Monday 20 September 2021 11:25 , Celine Wadhera

While blocking traffic at Junction 18 of the M25 this morning, protesters used blue paint to write “Insulate Britain” and draw a heart on the asphalt.

Insulate Britain said that the paint would lead to “further disruption” as it would require the road to be cleaned.

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Insulate Britain statement

Monday 20 September 2021 11:30 , Celine Wadhera

Insulate Britain issued a statement on Monday morning, after blocking the M25 in Hertfordshire.

“Early this morning, Insulate Britain blocked the M25 for a fourth time.

“People blocked slip roads and the M25 carriageway itself in a number of locations. Once again, blue paint was poured onto the road, which will require cleaning, leading to further disruption.”

It added: “actions will continue until the government makes a meaningful commitment to insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030, and all social housing by 2025.

The group also said that only one person who was arrested during the group’s demonstrations over the past week had been placed on remand.

Kent Police prevent protesters from accessing Junction 1A

Monday 20 September 2021 11:49 , Celine Wadhera

Kent Police officers prevented Insulate Britain protesters from accessing the M25 carriageway at Junction 1A this morning, at the Dartford River Crossing. Twelve people were arrested.

A statement said: “At around 8.30am on Monday, 20 September 2021, Kent Police received information that people were attempting to gain access to the M25 at junction 1a, the Dartford River Crossing.

“Officers attended at 12 people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance before they were able to gain access to the carriageway. They are currently in custody.”

Protesters cleared from Junction 4 of the A1M

Monday 20 September 2021 12:08 , Celine Wadhera

National Highways has said that protesters have been cleared from the demonstration that was previously blocking traffic at Junction 4 of the A1M.

Earlier, Hertfordshire Police reported that 16 people had been arrested in this incident.

Protesters cleared from M25 and A1M

Monday 20 September 2021 12:27 , Celine Wadhera

Hertfordshire Police have confirmed that the M25 near Rickmansworth and the A1M are fully open after being blocked for several hours by Insulate Britain protesters.

Officers were on scene around 8.15am this morning and worked to remove the protesters – some of whom had glued themselves to the road.

More than 40 people have been arrested in connection with demonstrations in Hertfordshire and Kent today.

M25 protesters ‘adding nothing’ to climate change efforts, says Foreign Office minister

Monday 20 September 2021 12:46 , Celine Wadhera

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said that the Insulate Britain protests that have been blocking the M25 over the past week are “adding nothing” to the cause of tackling climate change.

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Cleverly said that the protests were “a completely inappropriate way of making the point they’re trying to make.”

“I know the police have been taking action, the Home Secretary has made it very, very clear that they should be taking action, the police should take action when people are taking part in criminal behaviour and that’s what I think everybody will expect.

He told GMB that the protests were “ego-driven” and added: “I think the vast, vast majority of people want to see us tackling climate change, we are tackling climate change, and the UK is one of the global leaders in this and this is very much what the Prime Minister will be taking with him as a message when he goes to the United Nations.

“We’ve got the fastest reduction of emissions of any major developed economy, the UK is actually a real leader on this.

“So I have to say, my belief is that those disruptions and protests are more ego-driven, rather than issues-driven. And I would strongly urge the people involved in it not to put themselves and others at harm by this continued disruption.”

Images of police removing protesters from motorways

Monday 20 September 2021 13:05 , Celine Wadhera

Police officers were photographed removing Insulate Britain protesters from the M25 and the A1M earlier today. Officers worked to remove glue demonstrators had used to stick themselves to the motorway, while others carried protesters from the demonstration.

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Insulate Britain statement ahead of Monday’s demonstration

Monday 20 September 2021 13:24 , Celine Wadhera

Ahead of Monday’s demonstration along the M25, Insulate Britain released a statement on their website announcing the protest and urging the Highways Agency to reduce speed limits to allow for the group’s disruptive action.

“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.”

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

The group also said they believe their traffic stopping actions to be “proportionate”, if they cause the government to fulfil its climate change obligations.

“In the context of the horror of the climate crisis we believe that it is entirely proportionate to create disruption on the motorway network if it means the UK government fulfils its legal obligation of staying below 2C which will stop the unimaginable suffering for future generations.”

M25 protest so far

Monday 20 September 2021 13:44 , Celine Wadhera

Everything we know about the M25 protest so far

• Insulate Britain began blocking the M25 motorway near Junction 18 shortly after 8am this morning.

• Demonstrators were also blocking Junction 4 of the A1M around the same time.

• Hertfordshire police arrested 29 people between the two incidents.

• Kent Police prevented Insulate Britain demonstrators from accessing Junction 1A of the M25, arresting 12 people.

• In the demonstrations, protesters blocked motorways, glued themselves to the ground, and poured blue paint across the roads.

• The blockages from Junction 18 and A1m have been cleared, and traffic is now moving smoothly.

• Insulate Britain has said they will continue their disruptive efforts until the government commits to insulating 29 million “leaky homes” across the UK by 2030.

Boris Johnson criticises climate activists who block motorways

Monday 20 September 2021 14:03 , Celine Wadhera

Activists who block motorways in environmental demonstrations detract from the “very important moral mission” of fighting the climate crisis, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister shared this criticism en route to New York, where he plans to urge world leaders to take the crisis more seriously at the United Nations General Assembly.

“We are taking powers to be able to remove protesters when they are threatening critical national infrastructure, when they are threatening to cause serious economic damage and I think that is entirely right,” he told reporters on board the RAF Voyager.

“And no, I don’t think these people do any favours to their cause. I think that what they do is detract from a very important moral mission that is widely shared now by the people of this country.”

PA

Climate campaigners hurting their own cause with motorway blockades, says Boris Johnson

Monday 20 September 2021 14:22 , Celine Wadhera

As climate activists blocked the M25 for the fourth day in a week, Boris Johnson has accused those who block motorways during environmental protests of damaging their own cause and detracting from the climate emergency, at a time when it is increasingly being taken seriously by the British people.

Political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

Climate campaigners hurting their own cause with motorway blockades, says PM

Boris Johnson growing ‘increasingly frustrated’ at limited global commitment to tackle the climate crisis

Monday 20 September 2021 14:41 , Celine Wadhera

Boris Johnson told world leaders at a UN roundtable event that he is growing “increasingly frustrated” with their limited commitments to tackle the climate crisis.

Mr Johnson said: “Everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done.

“Yet I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough.

“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.

“And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen… it remains vast.”

PA

Most Britons oppose M25 climate protests, says YouGov

Monday 20 September 2021 14:49 , Celine Wadhera

Most Britons oppose M25 climate protests YouGov polling has found.

Among the general population, 59 per cent of respondents polled last week said they oppose the protests that have blocked the M25, compared with only 25 per cent who said they supported the actions.

The only time that support for the demonstrations was greater than opposition was amongst respondents who said that “pollution, the environment, and climate change” were among the top issues facing the country; in this demographic, 49 per cent supported the protests, with 39 per cent opposed.

But even then, most respondents said that actions like the M25 protests actually hinder support for climate change.

Among the general population, 64 per cent of respondents said that this kind of action hurts their cause, compared with only 7 who said that it helps their cause.

And even among those who said that “pollution, the environment, and climate change” were among the top issues facing the country, 55 per cent of respondents said that this kind of action hurts the cause of fighting the climate crisis, compared with 16 per cent who said that it helps their cause.

Thanks for tuning in

Monday 20 September 2021 14:57 , Celine Wadhera

This marks the end of today’s live coverage of the M25 protests.

In case you missed it, here’s what happened:

• Today’s demonstration marks the fourth day in a week that climate activists blocked sections of the M25.

• Insulate Britain protesters blocked the M25 and A1M motorways earlier today, causing disruption as demonstrators glued themselves to the asphalt and poured blue paint all over the roads.

• Hertfordshire Police arrested 29 people, and Kent Police arrested 12 who attempted to block the M25 near junction 1A.

• All roads were cleared by around lunchtime.

• Boris Johnson said that activists who block motorways in environmental demonstrations detract from the “very important moral mission” of fighting the climate crisis.

Thanks for tuning in.

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