Five people have been arrested after protesters climbed motorway signs on the M25 in response to the extreme temperatures and what they describe as the Government’s “inadequate preparations” for climate change.
Five demonstrators scaled gantries which support overhead motorway signs in three places on the M25, causing police to close sections of the road.
Protesters climbed signs at junction 10 eastbound near Cobham, Surrey, the Poyle interchange at Heathrow between junctions 14 and 15, and in Dartford between the Queen Elizabeth Bridge northbound and junction 30.
On Wednesday afternoon, Surrey Police said a woman had been arrested on suspicion of causing a danger to road users, causing a public nuisance, and for being a pedestrian on the motorway.
The force said: “Officers were called just after 7am this morning following reports of a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway.
“Officers attended the scene and located a female protester sitting on top of a gantry over the motorway.
“Three lanes needed to be closed while we worked to safely remove the woman, which involved a specialist team trained in dealing with incidents at height.
“A 22-year-old woman from London has been arrested on suspicion of causing a danger to road users, causing a public nuisance, and for being a pedestrian on the motorway.
“We appreciate this caused significant disruption this morning and want to thank drivers for their patience while we dealt with the incident.”
Hours of delays on M25 caused by these Just Stop Oil idiots!
I have 5 autistic children on my minibus that I’m trying to get to school for their last day and instead they are sat in traffic getting upset!
This is not the way to go about things! Pathetic way to protest! pic.twitter.com/tO4CvmmgNK
— Ashley Reid (@Bangers173) July 20, 2022
Police said all lanes had since been reopened on this part of the M25.
Essex Police also said a woman had been arrested.
The force said: “We responded to reports of someone on a gantry above the clockwise section between junctions 30 and 31 shortly after 11am today.
“Our officers attended and worked to resolve the situation quickly and safely and this required specialist resources.
“The road was closed for a time but we worked to put a diversion in place to release traffic. A woman has now been arrested and the road is being reopened shortly.”
Later, Scotland Yard said officers arrested a further three people – two women and a man – on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
The Metropolitan Police said officers were called at 8:42am to reports of people on a gantry over the M25 between junctions 14 and 15.
Specialist officers, who are trained to work at height, went onto the gantry to bring the people down safely.
A spokesman for Just Stop Oil said: “The main thing is, we’ve just seen 40C temperatures, which have been predicted for decades, maybe it’s happening a bit faster. But it has just revealed how inadequate the Government’s preparations for climate change are and their entire policy, and basically we’re just saying it’s evident now we cannot continue.
“As we’re going on, we need to stop new oil. It’s the first step to ensuring we have a liveable future, and maybe it’s already too late.
“This is something we definitely need to do.”
The group chose the M25 as the site of the action as it is “the place where we confront the carbon economy headlong and bring our resistance into full public view”.
It added: “The M25 has a kind of iconic status as the motorway from hell, doesn’t it? So it’s a reference to that”.
Temperatures reached 40C in the UK for the first time ever on Tuesday, which led to major incidents announced by fire brigades in London, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire as fires broke out across the country in the heat.
The group is demanding the Government makes a “meaningful statement” that it will commit to stop licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK, which it says is “the necessary first step to ensuring a liveable future”.
It added that it plans to hold further actions against oil infrastructure in coalition with trade unions, environmental groups and civil society organisations in the coming months.
A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “The ability to protest peacefully in a democracy is important and where lawful, forces will seek to facilitate protests – but even if a protest is peaceful and non-violent, this doesn’t always mean the actions taken by protesters are legal.
“We are concerned by the fact protesters are taking significant risks to their own safety and to the safety of others on the roads. Forces are working together, sharing information, and will take action against anyone acting illegally.”