Insulate Britain temporarily suspend road-blocking protests ahead of COP26 conference

·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
Insulate Britain are temporarily halting their road protests. (PA)
Insulate Britain are temporarily halting their road protests. (PA)

Insulate Britain are temporarily putting a halt to their protests ahead of the upcoming COP26 UN climate change conference.

The climate group, which has caused misery for drivers with protesters sitting on the M25 motorway and other major roads, announced today that it will “suspend its campaign of civil resistance” until 25 October.

In an open letter to Boris Johnson, the group urge the prime minister to “do the right thing, so we can be secure in the knowledge that our government did everything it could to protect and defend our country”.

The letter adds: “Insulate Britain would like to take this opportunity to profoundly acknowledge the disruption caused over the past five weeks.

ESSEX, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Angry motorists snatch banners from protestors as activists from Insulate Britain block a junction near the Dartford Crossing on October 13, 2021 in Thurrock, England.(Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Angry motorists snatch banners from protestors as activists from Insulate Britain block a junction near the Dartford Crossing on Wednesday. (Getty)

“We cannot imagine undertaking such acts in normal circumstances. But the dire reality of our situation has to be faced.”

They added: “In light of the speech you made (to the UN on 22 September) in which you recognised that 'We are approaching that critical turning point – in less than two months – when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves', we ask you to use this time to signal that you believe what you say.”

It comes the day after fights broke out between the group and furious motorists during a protest on the M25 near the Dartford Crossing.

Watch: Scuffle breaks out at Insulate Britain M25 protest

Insulate Britain – an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion – wants the government to insulate all UK homes by 2030 to cut carbon emissions.

It has blocked roads on 14 days over the past five weeks, with activists often gluing their hands to the carriageway to increase the length of time it takes for police to remove them.

Angry drivers often confronted the protesters and attempted to drag them away.

The group previously admitted its actions on the M25 were “in breach” of an injunction obtained by the government last month.

The injunctions were extended to the end of next month on Tuesday, prompting members of the group to burn the court orders outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Insulate Britain climate activists hold banners after a M25 slip road at Junction 14 close to Heathrow airport was blocked as part of a campaign intended to push the UK government to make significant legislative change to start lowering emissions on 27th September 2021 in Colnbrook, United Kingdom. The activists are demanding that the government immediately promises both to fully fund and ensure the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025 and to produce within four months a legally binding national plan to fully fund and ensure the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit, with no externalised costs, of all homes in Britain by 2030. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Insulate Britain climate activists hold banners at an M25 slip road at Junction 14 close to Heathrow airport last month. (Getty)

People who break injunctions can be found to be in contempt of court, but the protests continued as prosecutions usually take several months.

Last week, home secretary Priti Patel confirmed plans for new measures against the likes of Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion in her speech at Tory conference.

ESSEX, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Police spray solvent onto a hand that is superglued to the road as they arrest activists from Insulate Britain block a junction near the Dartford Crossing on October 13, 2021 in Thurrock, England.(Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Police spray solvent onto a hand that is superglued to the road as they arrest activists from Insulate Britain near the Dartford Crossing on Wednesday. (Getty)
Metropolitan Police officers remove Insulate Britain climate activists from a M25 slip road at Junction 14 close to Heathrow airport which they had blocked as part of a campaign intended to push the UK government to make significant legislative change to start lowering emissions on 27th September 2021 in Colnbrook, United Kingdom. The activists are demanding that the government immediately promises both to fully fund and ensure the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025 and to produce within four months a legally binding national plan to fully fund and ensure the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit, with no externalised costs, of all homes in Britain by 2030. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Metropolitan Police officers remove Insulate Britain climate activists from a M25 slip road at Junction 14 last month. (Getty)

Patel said she wants to increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway while also criminalising interference with major roads, railways and the press.

She was speaking after coming under pressure to instigate tougher measures to deal with the regular blocking of motorways by the climate protesters.

Insulate Britain has pledged to continue its activities until the government makes “a meaningful statement indicating that they will insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030”.

Watch: Insulate Britain announces it's suspending its campaign of 'civil resistance' in letter to PM

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