UK climate protesters face tougher penalties for blocking roads

Protest of Insulate Britain on M25 Motorway

LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change protesters who have repeatedly blocked traffic on Britain's busiest motorway face tougher sentences, including up to six months' imprisonment, the government said on Sunday.

Activists from Insulate Britain want the government to commit to providing insulation for 29 million homes. In recent weeks they have blocked slip roads, glued themselves to the road and poured paint onto the carriageway of the M25, which runs around London.

The government said it would amend existing legislation to increase penalties for obstructing a highway to an unlimited fine, six months' imprisonment, or both.

The police will also be granted new powers to seize equipment that may be used to "lock-on" protesters in the measures, to be announced at the ruling Conservative Party's annual conference this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement: "This government will always stand on the side of the law-abiding majority and ensure the toughest penalties possible for criminals who deliberately bring major roads to a standstill.

"We will give the police the powers they need to stop their reckless and selfish behaviour."

The protesters have defended the disruption, which they call civil disobedience, saying it is essential to get the government to take notice.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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