Motorway protests: Activists’ warning to Boris Johnson to ‘prevent thousands of deaths’

Insulate Britain slammed by Esther McVey

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Members of Insulate Britain have halted traffic with their demonstrations on 10 different days in the last three weeks. The group is a splinter organisation from the Extinction Rebellion environmentalist movement. It demands that the Government insulate and retrofit all UK homes by 2030 in an effort to cut carbon emissions. Insulate Britain members were arrested on Friday as the group staged its latest series of motorway protests.

Police said 39 people were held after activists blockaded sections of the M4, M1 and M25.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel is now set to vow a stronger crackdown against the protesters.

At the Conservative Party conference, which kicks off in Manchester today, she is expected to announce tougher powers to deal with the activists.

These will include longer sentences and giving police permission to seize protesters’ equipment.

Blocking a road is currently punishable by a maximum fine of £1,000 but ministers are seeking to bring in unlimited fines and six-month jail terms, or both.

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Today the Government took out its latest injunction to ban activities that block traffic and access to motorways and major roads in London.

The court order, granted by National Highways, is the third that has been taken out to deal with the disruptions in south-east England.

Before Insulate Britain started blocking motorways in September, the group issued a stark ultimatum to Mr Johnson.

In an unearthed letter to the Prime Minister, the group claimed a lack of Government action could cause “thousands” of deaths because of the lack of insulation in British homes.

The letter read: “We have done the modelling and consulted with experts.

“Investing in the insulation of our housing stock produces the greatest reduction in emissions compared with any other option.

“It will create tens of thousands of jobs, jobs which we can be proud of.

“It will prevent thousands of deaths and help the millions living in fuel poverty who have to decide between heat or food to eat.

“In short it is a no-brainer; what we are asking for is by far the most sensible conservative course of action.”

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The group demanded a government commitment to fully fund and “take responsibility” for insulating all social housing in Britain by 2025.

It also called on Mr Johnson to deliver a “legally binding” plan to insulate all homes by 2030.

The group vowed to consider further action if the Government failed to respond by September 1.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday this week, Mr Johnson issued his own strongly-worded warning to protesters blocking roads.

He said: “This Government will always stand on the side of the law-abiding majority and ensure the toughest penalties possible for criminals who deliberately bring major roads to a standstill.

“We will give the police the powers they need to stop their reckless and selfish behaviour.

“The right to protest is sacrosanct, but there is no right to inflict chaos and misery on people trying to go about their lives.”
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