UK climate motorway protesters risk jail under new injunction

This is taken from the A23 over the M25 London Orbital just north of Merstham, near Redhill. (Photo by: Andrew Wales Berks, UK/https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected])

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Climate protesters who repeatedly caused traffic chaos by blocking London’s busy M25 orbital motorway may now face imprisonment after the government on Wednesday announced it had won a court injunction.

“Invading a motorway is reckless & puts lives at risk. I asked National Highways to seek an injunction against M25 protestors which a judge granted last night,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in a tweet.

“Effective later today, activists will face contempt of court with possible imprisonment if they flout.”

The Insulate Britain group, which says it wants the government to make a “meaningful commitment” to making all British homes more energy efficient by 2030, has blocked traffic five times over the last week.

Police have made dozens of arrests, some of protesters who had returned after being released from custody.

The injunction now means tougher punishment as activists will be held in contempt of court and could be detained.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We will not tolerate lives being put at risk. Those who continue to do so risk imprisonment.”

Britain is hosting the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, with hopes of firmer commitments to cut emissions to prevent runaway global warming.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shakes hands during an event to launch the United Nations’ Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London on February 4, 2020. – Britain will bring forward a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2035, including hybrids, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to announce on Tuesday. Johnson was to make the announcement at an event launching the 2019 United Nations Climate Change conference, COP26, which will be held in Glasgow in November. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe / POOL / AFP)

Members of Insulate Britain who had previously been arrested and bailed later gathered outside Patel’s department in central London and burned their police release papers.

The group said in a statement it would only stop blocking roads if the government changed tack and agreed to meet them to discuss their demands.

If it did not, “the offence of creating a public nuisance is already there to be used… take us to court, charge us and put us in prison”.