Just Stop Oil spark rush hour chaos as activist scales motorway gantry on the M25


Just Stop Oil activists defied a High Court order banning them from disrupting the M25 today and continued to cause chaos on the roads by scaling a number of gantries to halt thousands of drivers trying to get to work.

Queues tailed back for miles in the middle of the Monday morning rush as police rushed to detain the rebels bringing traffic to a standstill at more than half a dozen separate locations on the ringroad.

Officers were called to protests in Surrey – at junction 6 and in three other locations between junctions 8-9, 12-13 and 13-14 – as well as in Hertfordshire at junctions 22 and 23, east London at junction 25 and Essex at junction 30.

The protests took place despite a major Metropolitan Police operation to foil their plans, which saw a number of demonstrators, including leader Roger Hallam, arrested last night.

National Highways was also granted a court order which was meant to put an end to disruption on Britain’s busiest motorway.

But the controversial campaigners, who carried out a full month of action in October, were back in force this morning, much to the fury of frustrated drivers.

The disruption on the roads came as there was also trouble on the rails, as a lack of drivers forced train companies to run a reduced service – despite strikes being called off at the eleventh hour.

Passengers were warned to check with train operators before they travel with some still running a reduced timetable due to the change coming at such short notice. 

Louise Harris, 24, who previously compared herself to a prisoner of war after football fans pelted her with drinks when she stormed onto the pitch during a match, was one of the activists taking part in today’s protest on the M25.

Shouting through tears in a video, she said today: ‘Hello, my name is Louise, I’m 24 years old and I’m here…I’m here because I don’t have a future. And you might hate me for doing this and you’re entitled to hate me. But I wish you would direct all that anger and hatred at our government. They are betraying young people like me. 

‘I would love to be there if they did their lawful duty to their own citizens. I’m part of the Just Stop Oil coalition demanding an end to all new oil and gas licences in the UK. What we’re asking for is what all the scientists are asking for, the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, the IPCC. 

‘How many more people have to say we don’t have a liveable future if you continue licencing oil and gas for you to listen? Why does it take young people like me, up on a f*****g gantry on the M25, for you to listen?

Just Stop Oil sparked rush hour chaos again this morning after an activist scaled the motorway gantry on the M25

Police have been called to deal with protester, who is in place between junctions 6 and 7 in Surrey. Traffic is still moving at the moment

Police have been called to deal with protester, who is in place between junctions 6 and 7 in Surrey. Traffic is still moving at the moment

The eco-group carried out an entire month of action over October and were planning daily action until Christmas

The eco-group carried out an entire month of action over October and were planning daily action until Christmas

Police watch as traffic is held back as an activist from Just Stop Oil occupies a gantry over the M25 near Godstone in Surrey

Police watch as traffic is held back as an activist from Just Stop Oil occupies a gantry over the M25 near Godstone in Surrey

The action is starting to cause chaos on the roads during the Monday morning rush hour

The action is starting to cause chaos on the roads during the Monday morning rush hour

Handout photo issued by Just Stop Oil of a protester who has climbed a gantry on the M25 between junctions six and seven in Surrey

Handout photo issued by Just Stop Oil of a protester who has climbed a gantry on the M25 between junctions six and seven in Surrey

Louise Harris, 24, who previously compared herself to a prisoner of war after football fans pelted her with drinks when she stormed onto the pitch during a match, was one of the activists taking part in today's protest on the M25

Louise Harris, 24, who previously compared herself to a prisoner of war after football fans pelted her with drinks when she stormed onto the pitch during a match, was one of the activists taking part in today’s protest on the M25

Members of the environmental protest group Just Stop Oil are detained after they try to block the M25 in east London by climbing a gantry at Junction 25

Members of the environmental protest group Just Stop Oil are detained after they try to block the M25 in east London by climbing a gantry at Junction 25

Members of the environmental protest group Just Stop Oil are detained after they try to block the M25 in east London by climbing a gantry at Junction 25

Members of the environmental protest group Just Stop Oil are detained after they try to block the M25 in east London by climbing a gantry at Junction 25

Popstar wannabe activist who compared herself to a prisoner of war after football fans pelted her with drinks when she stormed pitch among those taking part

Louise Harris shouted through tears into a camera from the top of a gantry on the M25: ‘I’m here because I don’t have a future.’

The 24-year-old is a prolific activist, having been spared jail earlier this summer for trying to tie herself to goal posts during Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with West Ham in March, while wearing one of the Just Stop Oil group’s trademark orange t-shirts.

Reflecting on the incident recently, the activist – who self-styles as a ‘pop singer-songwriter – aligned herself with rebels during the Irish War Of Independence.

 

In a Facebook post, she declared that ‘we must learn form history’ to stop climate activists being executed like rebels were. 

Ms Harris has even said she would go to war ‘to save the human race’ if the time comes.

However, she followed the sentiment by acknowledging ‘war is awful’ and she would rather ‘be part of nonviolent civil resistance instead.’

The demonstrator – who posts songs on YouTube including a slickly edited music video called ‘Dating me is like a Cambridge term’ – supposedly came to the realisation that her climate activism shared parallels with the conflict during a holiday to Ireland this month.

It is estimated that 2,346 people were killed or died as a result of the gruelling War of Independence, which ran between 1919 and 1921.

 

The Metropolitan Police said it had arrested people on Sunday evening and Monday morning as it launched an operation to identify and arrest climate change protesters suspected of planning ‘reckless and serious’ motorway disruption.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said three people were arrested on Sunday evening who were suspected of planning public disruption.

Mr Hallam was not at home when the police raided his property to arrest him, but they later said he had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance. 

Shortly before 8am on Monday, the Met said it had arrested a further four people on suspicion of the same offence.

More arrests were then made as officers began removing the activists who climbed onto gantries around the M25, closing several sections for periods and creating huge headaches for drivers trying to get to work.

Just Stop Oil said it contacted the Metropolitan Police and National Highways to advise them that there would ‘major disruption’ on the M25, and ask them to implement a 30mph speed limit, ‘in line with their responsibilities to keep the public safe’.

Indigo Rumblelow, 28, a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil from London said: ‘What did you expect? This government is complicit in an illegal and unconstitutional plan to issue more licences and consents for new oil and gas.

‘A plan that will take the world over 1.5C, resulting in the collapse of ordered society, the loss of our rights and freedoms and the death of millions of people.

‘Our latest Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks of the importance of ending our dependence on fossil fuels yet he is still planning to allow new fossil fuel projects. This is a failure of politics. 

‘People have the legal right under British law to cause disruption to prevent a greater harm: the right of necessity. We do not do this lightly. 

‘After thirty years of public debate, lobbying and petitioning, and three years of peaceful civil disobedience, we are still on course for catastrophic climate breakdown and we have nowhere else to go. The government is doubling down on fossil fuels, indicating ever greater levels of criminality.

‘In the face of this reality, disruptive civil resistance is now inevitable and justified. It will continue until the UK government changes course. We are serious. We have never been more serious. 

‘Our families, communities, our country and civilisation are on the cliff edge of destruction. We will not die silently and neither will the people, like you, your friends, neighbours and colleagues who know what has to be done.’

Theresa Norton, 64, a local councillor and carer from Scarborough said: ‘If we allow new oil and gas, millions will die. Millions are already dying right now from extreme heat, drought, famine, wildfires and floods. 

‘We are all in mortal danger and I cannot stand by and watch the cavalier attitude of a government wontonly destroying our future and our kids’ futures. It is obscene. I am with the kids who will not stand for it, who are actively resisting this genocidal government.’

Anthony Whitehouse, 71, a grandfather and gardener from Dewsbury, added: ‘I have worked hard, supported my family and expected a secure retirement. Instead I find myself in civil resistance against a criminally negligent government. 

‘Along with everyone else who understands where we are heading I must try to prevent the disaster that is unfolding. To understand the consequences of climate collapse and not to act is to be complicit in the death of millions and the displacement of hundreds of millions of people from their homes. Ordinary hard working people deserve to know what is coming if we don’t halt new oil and gas.’

The eco-group carried out an entire month of action over October and were planning daily action until Christmas.

Mr Hallam, who also co-founded Extinction Rebellion said: ‘It’s potentially the most significant act of civil disobedience in decades.’

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said three people were arrested on Sunday evening who were suspected of planning public disruption.

The leader of Just Stop Oil, Roger Hallam, was arrested last night for reportedly planning large-scale blockades to bring traffic to a stand-still on the M25 (pictured: Hallam being arrested in 2019)

 The leader of Just Stop Oil, Roger Hallam, was arrested last night for reportedly planning large-scale blockades to bring traffic to a stand-still on the M25 (pictured: Hallam being arrested in 2019)

Hallam,56, and two other eco-activists were taken in for questioning by Met police last night, The Sun reported

Hallam,56, and two other eco-activists were taken in for questioning by Met police last night, The Sun reported

Roger Hallam’s past litany of dodgy remarks: from comparing the Holocaust to just another ‘f***ery’ to advocating Nuremberg-trials for ‘climate criminals’ 

Farmer Roger Hallam, 55, who helped found Extinction Rebellion, before leaving to joining protest organiser Insulate Britain, wants to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world’, starting with Britain, and believes those running society ‘should have a bullet through their heads’. 

There have been allegations of a ‘cult-like’ following for the Welshman who compares his tactics to those of heroic activists Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He is said to have been inspired to take up climate activism after his farm in Wales went bust due to bad weather.  

Ironically, Mr Hallam owns a farmhouse which was described as ‘poorly insulated’ in an official energy performance certificate. His 2,000 sq ft farmhouse in Carmarthen, South Wales, was given the lowest possible energy rating on the certificate. It is unclear if Mr Hallam has taken steps to improve the rating since it was issued six years ago. 

Asked about the certificate, a spokesman for the group said: ‘This is the point – UK homes are the leakiest in Europe, with many millions of families being unable to afford the advice and help needed to insulate the building they live in.’

Hallam has also compared the murder of six million Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis to other historical massacres and claimed that memory of the Holocaust was holding Germany back.

The former organic farmer was quickly condemned by Extinction Rebellion groups in Germany after his comments with a newspaper in the country. 

Metropolitan Police confirmed they have launched a ‘significant’ operation to identify and arrest climate change protesters suspected of planning ‘reckless and serious’ motorway disruption as Cop27 gets underway.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said three people were arrested on Sunday evening who were suspected of planning public disruption. Police were expecting to make more arrests overnight.

Mr Twist said: ‘Our investigation has strong reason to suspect the Just Stop Oil group intend to disrupt major motorway road networks which would risk serious harm to the public, with reckless action to obstruct the public on a large scale.

‘All those arrested are suspected of engaging in conspiracy to cause public nuisance contrary to Section 78 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

‘There remains a possibility outstanding suspects are still intent on causing unlawful disruption to the public. The Met has mobilised specialist teams and drawn police officers from across the capital to respond.’

According to the Met, which is conducting the operation in conjunction with the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), more than 10,000 officer shifts have been dedicated to policing Just Stop Oil protests since the start of October. 

It comes as National Highways secured a High Court injunction to prevent Just Stop Oil protesters disrupting England’s busiest motorway.

The court has granted a further injunction which aims to stop unlawful demonstrations on the M25, which encircles Greater London, in an attempt to end disruption to the busy road by the environmental group.

It means that anyone entering the motorway and fixing themselves to any object or structure on it, and anyone assisting in such an act, can be held in contempt of court.

They could face imprisonment, an unlimited fine, and the seizure of assets.

The injunction was secured in addition to an court order obtained by National Highways earlier this year that targeted protesters including those from Insulate Britain.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he instructed National Highways to apply for the latest injunction to tackle a ‘reckless minority of protesters’.

He said: ‘Protesting by blocking busy motorways or climbing overhead structures is extremely dangerous and disruptive, which is why I instructed National Highways to apply for this further injunction, which the courts have granted.

‘This will make it easier to take action against this reckless minority of protesters.

‘They could face imprisonment or an unlimited fine if they breach the injunction.’

National Highways secured a High Court injunction to prevent Just Stop Oil protesters disrupting England's busiest motorway

National Highways secured a High Court injunction to prevent Just Stop Oil protesters disrupting England’s busiest motorway

Mr Hallam, who also co-founded Extinction Rebellion said their action up until Christmas would potentially be 'the most significant act of civil disobedience in decades'

Mr Hallam, who also co-founded Extinction Rebellion said their action up until Christmas would potentially be ‘the most significant act of civil disobedience in decades’

Duncan Smith, executive director for operations at National Highways, added: ‘Millions of people rely on the strategic road network every day and they have a right to expect it to operate as it should.

‘We already have an injunction covering hundreds of miles of our network. This further court order will make it easier to take action against those reckless individuals who choose to unlawfully protest on the M25.

‘Protesting on these busy roads is extremely dangerous for the protestors themselves and all road users.

‘National Highways remains committed to do whatever it can to seek to deter unlawful protest activity and punish all of those who breach the injunction orders in the eyes of the law.’

National Highways’ existing injunction covers the M25, the M25 feeder roads and major roads in Kent and around the Port of Dover until May 2023.

Commuters face Monday morning rush hour chaos as train companies run a reduced service due to lack of drivers – despite strikes being called off on Friday

Commuters are facing rush hour chaos this morning, as a lack of drivers forces train companies to run a reduced service – despite strikes being called off at the eleventh hour.

Passengers have been warned to check with train operators before they travel with some still running a reduced timetable due to the change coming at such short notice.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) were set to stage walkouts in the coming few days in a long running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

But RMT suspended the strikes on Friday, saying it had secured ‘unconditional’ talks with Network Rail (NR) and the promise of a pay offer from the train operating companies.

This morning, NR told travellers there would be ‘a heavily reduced timetable’, with disruption running into Tuesday.

Some rail staff spent the weekend ‘doing nothing on full pay’ 

The disruption to passengers this morning comes amid claims that some staff have ‘spent the weekend doing nothing on full pay’.

While there is a shortage of drivers, the Independent reports that much of the railway will still be fully staffed this week.

This includes at signal boxes, even though no trains are scheduled, while guards are being paid to sit in mess rooms due to the lack of services, and staff are remaining at desks in ticket offices at deserted stations, the website says.

Many took to social media to react, with one claiming: ‘There might as well be a strike – no trains from where I live into London today and reduced options tomorrow.’

Another said: ‘Am not a happy lady this morning…our local train line despite strike being called off NO TRAINS till tomorrow. Sunday was due to rail works BUT not Saturday or today. Lots of workers/school children having problems travelling.’

A third added: ‘The strike was called off yet there are still no trains running. So, rail workers get a day off on full pay. Well played, comrades.’

However, some were more pleased with the outcome, with one writing: ‘The rail strikes being cancelled means my scheduled limited service is no longer running I’m screaming. A bonus wfh day before two days leave? Cheers comrades.’

It comes amid claims that some staff have ‘spent the weekend doing nothing on full pay’.

While there is a shortage of drivers, the Independent reports that much of the railway will still be fully staffed this week.

This includes at signal boxes, even though no trains are scheduled, while guards are being paid to sit in mess rooms due to the lack of services, and staff are remaining at desks in ticket offices at deserted stations, the website says. 

A sign advertising the now-cancelled rail strikes warns passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary

A sign advertising the now-cancelled rail strikes warns passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary

Passengers have been warned to check with train operators before they travel with some still running a reduced timetable due to the change coming at such short notice

Passengers have been warned to check with train operators before they travel with some still running a reduced timetable due to the change coming at such short notice

The RMT insists the dispute remains ‘very much live’ and it is continuing its re-ballot of members to secure a fresh mandate for action with the result due on 15 November.

Talks will now be held over the next few weeks to try to resolve the dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said advice remains to check before travelling.

‘Unfortunately, the late notice of the suspension of strike action means that while train companies are working hard to reinstate services, some services will remain severely disrupted for our passengers into the early part of next week and our advice remains to please check before you travel,’ a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Network Rail said there will be a ‘quite a mixed picture’ of delays and cancellations on Monday depending on the train operator.

But they added that widespread disruption is not expected on Tuesday and that services should also be running as normal on Wednesday, which had been another planned strike day, since operators will have had time to reorganise the usual timetables again.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The threat of strike action and our strongly supported industrial campaign has made the rail employers see sense.

‘We have always wanted to secure a negotiated settlement and that is what we will continue to push for in this next phase of intensive talks.

‘Our priority is our members, and we are working towards securing a deal on job security, a decent pay rise and good working conditions.

‘Our re-ballot remains live and if we have to take strike action during the next six months to secure a deal, we will.’

Special strike timetables will remain largely in place for Monday, but some operators plan to run more services than on Saturday and hope they will be back to normal by midweek.

The RMT said NR had originally declared discussions and consultations closed and was intent on imposing changes to maintenance without agreement with the union.

‘They have now rowed back and will continue discussions on the basis that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’

‘This takes away the reason for the current phase of action and means talks can continue without pre-conditions unilaterally set down by the company,’ said the RMT.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the suspension of the strikes was a ‘positive development’, adding: ‘We encourage unions and employers to continue their negotiations and calling off these strikes has given those talks a better chance of success.

‘It is vital, for passengers and workers alike, that all parties continue to work together and deliver a modern railway we can all be proud of.’

The TSSA announced it was calling off its planned rail strikes on November 5, 7, 8 and 9 after receiving an invitation to ‘intensive talks’ from the Rail Delivery Group.

TSSA members were due to take strike action in five different rail companies on different days over the period.

Interim general secretary Frank Ward said: ‘We have always said that strikes are a last resort, and we are glad to finally be invited to the first set of formal talks with train operators in months.’



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