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13 October 2021

Anger mounts as motorists confront Insulate Britain protesters blocking M25

13 October 2021

Protesters from Insulate Britain have clashed with angry motorists in Essex, including a mother who berated activists for stopping her from driving her 11-year-old son to school.

Lorry drivers blasted their horns and a female protester was nearly run over by a frustrated motorist as the environmental campaign group blocked roads for a 13th time on Wednesday morning.

Multiple confrontations occurred at around 8.30am, with demonstrators dragged off the roads by drivers near a busy industrial estate in Thurrock.

Around 20 protesters blocked the junction of St Clements Way and London Road, forcing multiple vehicles including HGVs to stop and turn round.

Motorists ripped banners out of the hands of demonstrators as they sat or laid down in the road.

Others had glued themselves to the carriageway, causing long queues of cars.

A female protester was almost run over after stopping in front of a blue Hyundai car, and was berated by the driver who told her “This is stupidity”.

Some members of the group were dragged off the road multiple times by drivers, who pulled their backpacks and clothing, after immediately returning to their spots and sitting down again.

Around 20 protesters blocked roads in Thurrock on Wednesday morning (Insulate Britain/ PA) (PA Media)

Footage circulated online showed one woman get out of her black Range Rover and argue with those gathered around her car.

“Move out of the f****** way, my son needs to get to school,” she told demonstrators.

“I don’t care what the f****** issue is. My son is 11 and he needs to get to school today, so move out of the way and let me get him to school.”

Police later arrived and removed more protesters from the roads.

Essex Police said they had made a total of 35 arrests at the scene and acknowledged the frustration faced by motorists.

HGV drivers also warned that the protests could cause the ongoing fuel crisis to worsen as tankers will be unable to reach filling stations.

Around 20 protesters blocked the junction to St Clements Way and London Road, in Thurrock (Insulate Britain/PA) (PA Media)

One driver told LBC news: “If this protest stays here for much longer, I’m afraid the night shift driver will not be able to deliver fuel for any garages or anyone.

“So talking about lorry driver shortages and fuel shortages, today it may get worse. This is a hotspot.

“We also deliver to commercials, bus garages, train depots, which are all essential for transport.”

Delivery driver Robert J Foulger, 57, said: “There were nine police vehicles there and countless officers not out catching criminals, costing the taxpayer money.

“I took pictures whilst sitting in traffic trying to deliver fresh produce to a supermarket distribution centre.

“I was on the moving side of traffic so didn’t wait long, luckily.”

Responding to the incident, Essex Police said: “We are currently on scene and have made arrests following reports of people blocking the slip road of the M25 in Thurrock.

“We received reports of people on the road at junction 31 shortly after 8.25am today.

The force later tweeted: “35 people have now been arrested after we responded quickly to reports of roads blocked in #Thurrock.

“16 people were arrested at J31 of the #M25 while 19 were arrested in Stonehouse Ln, #Purfleet.

“All roads are now open. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

The protest sparked large queues of traffic (Robert J Foulger/PA) (PA Media)

Insulate Britain, an offshoot of environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion, has now staged protests 13 times in recent weeks.

The group has blocked parts of major roads around London, including the M25 and M4, to draw attention to climate change.

Transport for London was previously granted a High Court injunction against the group to prevent members further obstructing traffic – which applies to 14 locations around the capital.

On Tuesday, the injunctions were extended to the end of next month, prompting protesters to burn the court orders outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Members of Insulate Britain burnt court orders outside the Royal Courts of Justice (PA) (PA Wire)

According to court documents, 112 people have been served with court orders relating to the protests.

Despite the arrests and frustrated responses of commuters, the group says other members of the public have praised its actions.

Dr Diana Warner, an Insulate Britain supporter, said: “Many people are going out of their way to thank us.

“Some come out of their cars to thank us, some are police officers involved with our arrests.

“To them, we bring hope – we haven’t yet given up. We are still pushing for lifesaving changes.”

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