Ministers plan legal action to stop Insulate Britain disrupting motorways

Priti Patel and Grant Shapps are seeking a court injunction to stop environmental protesters from targeting major motorways after five days of tailbacks and damaging headlines for the government.

The home secretary and the transport secretary have asked National Highways and the Government Legal Service to submit an application later this week.

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain have targeted the M25 five times in just over a week. They are calling for government action on home insulation.

Thirty-eight people were arrested after the climate activists held another protest on Tuesday, police have confirmed. They stopped traffic on both carriageways of the motorway between junctions 9 en 10, near Cobham in Surrey,

Members of the group walked on to the road in front of moving vehicles before being dragged away. Police have warned that the tactics could cause injury or death.

In a video released by the group, a protester said: “I am here today because the government needs to cut emissions. We need to insulate Britain. It is a win-win, a quick easy win to reduce emissions and to end fuel poverty.”

Insulate Britain said it had written to the home secretary on Monday, but received no response. “As soon as we hear a meaningful commitment that we can trust, we will end the campaign,” a protester said.

Tuesday’s protest was the fifth in just over a week. Maandag, 41 arrests were made at protests in Hertfordshire and Kent.

According to a government briefing on Tuesday night, officials are also considering an interim injunction application at the high court while any full injunction is being considered.

The case put to a judge will centre on the impact on safety of road users. A civil injunction may be granted where the court is satisfied that an individual has engaged in, or threatens to engage in, conduct capable of causing nuisance and annoyance, it was claimed.

If an injunction is granted, attempting to block the motorway could result in the person restrained receiving a prison sentence for contempt of court.

A senior government source said: “Priti and Grant are furious that the lives of the law-abiding majority are continuing to be disrupted by the actions of an extreme minority. They 100% back National Highways to take legal action against these individuals to ensure those who the police arrest are not released on bail and able to return to disrupting and endangering people’s lives in this way.”

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