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Government ministers have demanded police take “swift” and decisive action against climate protesters after the M25 was blocked for the third time in a week.
Junction 3 at Swanley in Kent, Junction 9 at Leatherhead in Surrey, and Junction 28 near Brentwood in Essex were targeted on Friday morning.
Surrey Police said officers arrested 14 people at Junction 9, while a further 10 were detained at Junction 1 of the M3 at Sunbury-on-Thames.
Essex Police said 24 were held at junction 28 of the M25 and junction 8 of the M11 where it meets the A120.
Insulate Britain, the group behind the demonstrations, which is demanding Government action on home insulation, claimed 79 people attempted to block the London orbital motorway hours after their release from police custody following similar protests earlier this week.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is said to have told police to take “decisive” action to crack down on the protests which brought traffic to a halt.
In a call with chief constables – including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick – on Friday Morning, Ms Patel is understood to have reiterated her position and sought assurances as she was updated on the situation.
Ms Patel had already criticised the “selfish” protesters, some of whom glued themselves to the road, after they stopped thousands of motorists at four junctions on Britain’s busiest motorway shortly after 8am on Wednesday for the second time in three days.
She said the “guerrilla tactics” used by the protesters “detract from their cause”.
Ms Patel said there will “always be space for legitimate groups to make their voices heard”, but added: “This Government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and increases pollution. I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads.”
Insulate Britain said 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”.
This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and INCREASES pollution. I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads. pic.twitter.com/8YqouvXKuw
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 17, 2021
Surrey Police tweeted on Friday: “We were made aware of protesters at junction 9 of the M25 earlier this morning. 14 people have been arrested. We were also made aware shortly after 9am of protesters at junction 1 of the M3.
“We have arrested 10 people at junction 1 of the M3, and the carriageway is clear. Junction 9 of the M25 is also clear.”
Superintendent Sam Smith, of Essex Police, said: “Incidents of this nature have the potential to cause significant disruption to road users, who may need to get to work, an appointment or catch a flight.
“Our officers worked quickly to remove attempted protests this morning and made 24 arrests in a matter of minutes.
“The roads have now reopened and traffic is moving freely.”