Insulate Britain protesters have blocked roads at the Port of Dover – making a mockery of Priti Patel‘s injunction against them.
More than 40 activists across two groups have blocked the A20 road in Kent which provides access to the Port of Dover.
The port is the busiest ferry port in Europe and is the UK’s main gateway for trade from the EU. It is responsible for 17% of the UK’s trade in goods and handles £122 billion in trade a year. Every hour, 400 to 500 trucks come into the port, with a similar number going out. It was used by an average of 6,200 road haulage vehicles every day last year.
The protest comes amid a growing supply crisis with a shortage of lorry drivers leading to BP closing petrol stations and leaving some supermarkets with empty shelves. The shortage is already threatening to derail Christmas plans for Brits and it is feared today’s protest could worsen the situation.
One eco-zealot even climbed on top of a tanker and refused to come down, while holding a sign that claimed he had been arrested four times previously.
Some of the activists sat down at the entrance to the terminal and glued themselves to the road, blocking off routes to the port.
They were confronted by angry drivers, with one saying the demonstration stopped her from getting to her granddaughter, while one stranded motorist shouted: ‘We need insulating from you!’
Another said to the activists: ‘Do you realise that you’re actually losing the cause because I would’ve supported you but I’ve got children that are supposed to be going to school.
‘Education is far more important than this right now, right this second, you’re actually losing respect. What are you teaching these children to do? Sitting in the middle of the road, at your age? Come on, get up, move on, you’re stopping businesses. You’ve got no respect from me whatsoever – none.’
Insulate Britain has shut down parts of the M25 motorway around London five times in just over a week in a bid to force the Government to insulate and retrofit homes across the UK to cut climate emissions. The move, which has seen hundreds arrested, has prompted an angry backlash in some quarters.
Kent Police said it has arrested 17 people over the protests at the Port of Dover, with Dover MP Natalie Elphicke slamming the protesters as ‘hooligans’.
The Government successfully applied to the High Court for an order which prohibits anyone from blocking the M25 with those breaking the injunction facing a possible two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
But the limited scope of the injunction was quickly realised by the eco-warriors as they simply moved to other roads the order does not cover. Today’s protest also isn’t covered by the injunction, making a mockery of Priti Patel’s attempts to battle the eco mob.
Insulate Britain protesters blocking the A20 in Kent, this morning, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent
The protesters caused a huge traffic jam outside the Port of Dover today, further delaying already stretched HGV drivers
Protesters from Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent
Several lorries were blocked by the Insulate Britain eco-mob at the Port of Dover this morning – threatening to worsen Britain’s HGV shortage crisis
Protesters from Insulate Britain sit on top of a vehicle as they block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent
The environmental activists have moved location after been banned from campaigning on the M25 motorway in London
Some of the activists sat down at the entrance to the terminal and glued themselves to the road, blocking off routes to the port
Protesters from Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent
Police officers tried to remove the protesters, though many of them appeared to have glued themselves to the road
Police officers were seen attempting to drag protesters away from the road, although it is unclear if they were successful
Protest group Insulate Britain say more than 40 supporters across two groups have blocked the A20 road in Kent which provides access to the Port of Dover
The protest comes despite the government taking out an injunction against the group to stop them blocking the M25
Kent Police said in a statement: “Kent Police is currently dealing with protest activity which is causing traffic disruption in Dover.
“At around 8.20am on Friday September 24 officers were called to reports that a group of people were obstructing the road on Jubilee Way, a second group were at Snargate Street at the junction with A20 and a third smaller group on the A20 at the junction with Aycliffe.
“Officers are in attendance and are engaging with the individuals involved and 12 people have been arrested from the Snargate Street protest.
“Kent Police is aware of the traffic disruption in the area and is working with partner agencies to minimise delays.”
A spokesperson for Insulate Britain outlined why the group, which wants the Government to insulate and retrofit homes across the UK, blocked Europe’s busiest ferry port on Friday morning.
They said: ‘We are blocking Dover this morning to highlight that fuel poverty is killing people in Dover and across the UK.
‘We need a Churchillian response: We must tell the truth about the urgent horror of the climate emergency. Change at the necessary speed and scale requires economic disruption.
‘We wish it wasn’t true, but it is. It’s why the 2000 fuel protests got a U-turn in policy and gave Blair his biggest challenge as Prime Minister.’
The spokesperson added: ‘We are sorry for the disruption that we are causing. It seems to be the only way to keep the issue of insulation on the agenda and to draw attention to how poorly insulated homes are causing ill health, misery and early death for many thousands of people.
‘We are failing the country’s cold hungry families and the elderly and placing an enormous burden on the NHS.
What does injunction mean? Legal remedy can stop activists but there are loopholes
What is the injunction?
The High Court order, which officially came into force this morning, prohibits protesters from ‘blocking, endangering, slowing down, preventing, or obstructing traffic on the M25’.
The National Highways won the legal remedy from the High Court last night.
The order includes verges, central reservation, on- and off-slip roads, overbridges and underbridges including the Dartford Crossing and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
It remains in place until 21 March 2022.
How will activists be punished?
Anyone from the group who tries to protest on the M25 will be in contempt of court and at risk of prison, and an unlimited fine.
What happens next?
Mr Justice Lavender, who granted the injunction, said there will be a further hearing on October 5 at 10.30am.
National Highways intends to return to court to extend the injunction and potentially seek additional powers of arrest.
What are the loopholes?
It is only in place for the M25, meaning protesters could get around it by taking their disruptive actions to a different road.
Last week the group targeted the A3 and the A10 in Hertfordshire.
‘Insulating our leaky homes is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and it has all these additional benefits – reducing fuel poverty, creating jobs, reducing the burden on the NHS and protecting people from overheating during future heat waves. It’s a no-brainer. Boris just needs to get on with the job.’
The Port of Dover said in a statement: ‘Port of Dover confirms protesters are currently blocking the entrance to the port.
‘Please allow extra time for your journey and check with your ferry operator for updates. The port remains open.’
Today’s protest is the second time the eco-mob has ignored an injunction taken out against it by the government.
On Wednesday, activists descended on the government building in Marsham Street, central London, where they blocked the road, lit a fire and burned documents including their bail release papers – acts that dodge the court order which only covers the M25.
The group, including many who have been seen at multiple demos in the last week, sat brandishing homemade signs with messages such as: ‘Please act now.’
Others brazenly gave their names and jobs as Xavier Gonzalez, a trimmer, Janine Eagling, a bike instructor, and Stefania Morosi, a yoga teacher.
It comes after Grant Shapps revealed a judge granted the injunction last night following a week of chaos on major highways.
The Transport Secretary said the anarchists will face contempt of court and potentially be locked up if they continue their antics.
Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed the ‘important’ move and said it will mean ‘people can get moving’ on the busy road again.
Mr Shapps and Ms Patel had earlier vowed to crack down on the Extinction Rebellion splinter group and were said to be ‘furious’ at the protesters.
But the limited scope of the injunction was quickly realised by the eco-warriors as they simply moved to other roads the order does not cover.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘We have to move quickly. What we do, I believe, in the next three to four years will determine the future of humanity.
‘For ten days now, campaigners from Insulate Britain have been blocking motorways to urge our government to make a meaningful statement we can all trust on insulating and retrofitting the houses of this country.
‘Doing anything less would be a betrayal of any UK government’s first duty: to protect the British people. We urge you to ensure this meaningful statement is made swiftly so ordinary people can stop blocking roads.
‘But, if you believe, as you say, that our acts are outrageous and illegal, and if you believe there is no right of necessity for citizens to cause disruption to prevent the infinitely greater threat of destruction to our economy and way of life, then you have a duty to act decisively.
‘The offence of creating a public nuisance is already there to be used, you didn’t need an injunction. Take us to court, charge us, and put us in prison.’
He added: ‘Alternatively, if you think we have a case, you have a responsibility to the country to at least meet and talk with us.
‘And you will find we are entirely reasonable in our demands which will save the lives of 8500 from fuel poverty this winter. We want to stop the roadblocks as much as you.
‘The climate crisis is the biggest threat to Britain in its long history. It requires decisive action. The country is waiting to see if you have what it takes.’
Protesters from Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent. The environmental activists have moved location after been banned from campaigning on the M25 motorway in London
The port is the busiest ferry port in Europe and is the UK’s main gateway for trade from the EU
Access to the port was blocked by the group with an ambulance also seemingly stopped
Protesters glued themselves to the road and infuriated drivers at the Port of Dover this morning. There were several confrontations between drivers and activists
Police officers clashed with the protesters and attempted to drag them from the road shortly after the protest started
Long traffic queues were spotted outside the port shortly after the group staged its protest
The Port of Dover said in a statement: ‘Port of Dover confirms protesters are currently blocking the entrance to the port. ‘Please allow extra time for your journey and check with your ferry operator for updates. The port remains open’
Today’s protest comes amid shortages of food and petrol as the HGV crisis continues to bite.
On Thursday Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association trade body said that the Government had allowed the driver shortage to get ‘gradually worse’ in recent months.
‘We have got a shortage of 100,000 (drivers),’ he told BBC’s Newsnight.
‘When you think that everything we get in Britain comes on the back of a lorry, whether it’s fuel or food or clothes or whatever it is, at some point, if there are no drivers to drive those trucks, the trucks aren’t moving and we’re not getting our stuff.’
He added: ‘I don’t think we are talking about absolutely no fuel or food or anything like that, people shouldn’t panic buy food or fuel or anything else, that’s not what this is about.
‘This is about stock outs, it’s about shortages, it’s about a normal supply chain being disrupted.’
Panic buying at the pumps has already begun today amid fears fuel rationing is on the way due to the UK’s crippling HGV driver shortage – as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tried to calm nerves by urging Britons ‘carry on as normal’.
Queues of cars were seen spilling out on to the road from forecourts in Tonbridge, Kent, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, and Brighton, Sussex, this morning – just a day after fuel bosses warned of petrol and diesel rationing and petrol station closures.
The scenes of queues outside petrol stations – which for some will stir up memories of the 1973 Opec Oil Crisis – come amid fears of a 1978-style ‘winter of discontent’ for the UK with skyrocketing energy prices, food shortages and fuel rationing.
Yesterday BP announced plans to ration fuel and shut stations, supermarkets warned of food shortages and more energy firms went bust amid rising gas prices – sparking fears of a new ‘winter of discontent’.
And in a particularly unhelpful addition to the problem, eco-mob Insulate Britain returned to the roads today to block of a route to Port of Dover – Europe’s busiest port and the UK’s main gateway for trade from the EU.
It comes as Petrol Retailers Association last night warned drivers to ‘keep a quarter of a tank’ of fuel in their vehicles in preparation for potential closures of local petrol stations.
Gerald Ronson, owner of almost 300 Rontec – BP, Texaco and forecourts across the country, told The Telegraph he expects fuel court disruption to last for more than four weeks.
He said: ‘With everybody coming back to work – more cars on the road because people don’t want to use buses or trains – this has drained a lot of fuel.’
Number 10 said last night that ‘we acknowledge there are issues facing many industries across the UK’ as the nation heads into the colder months.
It comes Ministers faced fresh pressure to ease immigration rules as an emergency measure to attract HGV drivers from overseas amid warnings that 100,000 more were needed across the industry.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today hinted at the possibility, saying he would move ‘heaven and earth’ to tackle the ‘systemic issue’ of HGV driver shortages.
He also claimed delivery firms were offering huge salaries in a bid to entice drivers who have left the industry to come back – with one ‘top milk firm’ apparently offering as much as ‘£78,000-a-year’.
Meanwhile, one vegetable firm in Lincolnshire is currently advertising a broccoli picker role for £30-per-hour – equivalent to around £62,000-a-year.