Protestors who disrupt travel on England’s motorways could be imprisoned and fined, it has been announced.
It comes after National Highways, formerly known as Highways England, secured an interim injunction preventing climate activists from carrying out further demonstrations on the M25.
On Monday, 41 members of the environmental group Insulate Britain were arrested for blocking the carriageway, including the anti-clockwise exit slip road at junction 18, junction 4, and junction 1a.
Passing through six counties, the M25 is used by hundreds of thousands of motorists every day to enter and leave the capital.
Officers said several protestors had glued themselves to the motorway, while others poured paint and other liquids on the tarmac to temporarily close the road.
Insulate Britain is calling on the Government to insulate more homes in a bid to slow down climate change.
But today’s ruling means that activists will be in contempt of court if they breach the terms of the interim injunction.
Under the terms of the injunction, protestors could be imprisoned for up two years and handed an unlimited fine.
A spokesperson for Insulate Britain, however, said members were prepared to go to prison to make their point.
Commenting on the injunction, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This injunction is an important step in stopping these activists putting lives needlessly at risk on our busy roads.
“Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for people to make their voices heard. It cannot be at the expense of public safety.
“The police have our full support in cracking down on this reckless behaviour.”
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse added: “These protests have endangered the lives of road users and the police officers who have responded quickly and responsibly.
“The police should be fighting crime in our neighbourhoods, not chasing activists across busy motorways. This is why we are taking this action now and we’ll be working with National Highways on a full injunction.”
National Highways said it will return to court to extend the injunction and seek additional powers of arrest.
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