Now Insulate Britain block PORT at Dover as eco mob make a mockery of Priti Patel’s injunction

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Insulate Britain protesters glued themselves to a tanker as they blocked roads at the Port of Dover this morning – making a mockery of Priti Patel‘s injunction against them.  

More than 40 activists across two groups blocked the A20 road in Kent which provides access to the Port of Dover.

Kent Police made 17 arrests and the port was reopened just after 11am – though two protesters remain glued to a lorry afterwards and had to be taken down with a sling. 

The government is said to now be seeking another injunction to stop Insulate Britain converging on the Port of Dover in the future. 

The group previously 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. 

This led to the Government successfully applying 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. 

Now, according to the Times, the government is seeking a second injunction after lawyers advised ministers not to apply for a nationwide injunction on motorway protests because believe it would be rejected by the High Court as disproportionate.

However, it means that the government could have to file repeated injunctions against the eco mob, in what one source called a cat-and-mouse battle.  

The Port of Dover 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. 

Despite police clearing out the protest just after 11am, one lane of the A20 in the port of Dover remained blocked for hours afterwards with a man and a woman sat on top of a tanker.

The tanker was draped in an Insulate Britain banner and also had signs saying ‘I want my children to survive’ and ‘Arrested 4 times because I am in mourning for life on earth’.

One of the protesters on the tanker – 27-year-old Stephanie – said: ‘We do not want to be here. I want to be home with my family spending time with them but if we don’t do this they aren’t going to have a future.

‘The Government are not doing enough. On the current trajectory we are heading for chaos.’

The other protester sitting on the tanker, 28-year-old Josh, added: ‘We are here today to get the Government to insulate the houses of the UK. The reason being is because per-pound invested insulation is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce CO2.’

Josh was reportedly glued to the tanker along with his companion Stephanie after they travelled down from Manchester. They were eventually brought down by police who used an orange sling to carry them. 

Police officers remove two protesters from the top of a tanker, as Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

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

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

Insulate Britain protesters blocking the A20 in Kent, this morning, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

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

The protesters caused a huge traffic jam outside the Port of Dover today, further delaying already stretched HGV drivers

A woman Insulate Britain protester is carried away by police this morning after taking part in the eco-mob's latest protest

A woman Insulate Britain protester is carried away by police this morning after taking part in the eco-mob’s latest protest

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

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

Police officers lead away a protester from Insulate Britain, as they block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

Police officers lead away a protester from Insulate Britain, as they block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

Protesters from Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

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

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

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

Police officers lead away a protester from Insulate Britain, as they block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

Police officers lead away a protester from Insulate Britain, 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

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

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

Protesters from Insulate Britain block the A20 in Kent, which provides access to the Port of Dover in Kent

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.’   

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!’

What does the injunction mean? The legal remedies to tackle Insulate Britain

Why can’t protesters just be sent to prison now? 

Although the collective actions of protesters have a huge impact on the travelling public, the activists are treated individually under the law. The offences for which each protester can be arrested are relatively minor and in most cases do not carry a custodial sentence. This means that – even if they are charged by police – protesters will not be remanded in custody.

Why are protesters allowed to repeatedly block roads?

Most of the Insulate Britain activists who have been arrested by police in the last week have not yet been charged with a crime. They were released soon after being arrested while police analyse evidence and consult with the Crown Prosecution Service on possible charges. This has left the same protesters free to block roads on successive days.

What offences have the police arrested people for so far?

Conspiracy to cause danger to road users and conspiracy to cause public nuisance – both of which must be tried in the Crown court and can carry short jail terms. There have also been arrests for wilful obstruction of a public highway, which is a summary offence – in other words, dealt with by magistrates not the Crown courts – and does not lead to remand in custody.

Can’t the police use other laws instead?

Police can arrest someone who is causing a breach of the peace, but this is not in itself a criminal offence. If police suspect someone who is under arrest will commit a further breach of the peace upon release, they can apply to a magistrate to decide whether to ‘bind over’ the arrested person. Refusing to be bound over can lead to jail for contempt of court. Alternatively, police could potentially use the offence of ‘trespassory assembly’ under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Organisers of assemblies which have been prohibited by the local authority under this law can face a jail term of up to three months. Those taking part can be fined. 

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.

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.’ 

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.

‘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.’ 

Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, said the port has ‘implemented its tried and tested resilience plans in order to deal with the impact of the protest’.

He went on: ‘The port has consistently shown its ability to deal with such challenges and today’s targeted activity shows once again the importance and symbolism of Dover to the nation as a critical trade and tourism artery on which the UK continues to rely.

‘We are working with our customers and the police authorities in managing the situation and apologise to our community for any disruption being caused by a situation not of our making.’

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council said: ‘Today’s demonstration in Dover is totally unacceptable and has led to disruption for local residents, businesses and port users.

‘This has nothing to do with fuel poverty. They targeted the Port of Dover to cause maximum disruption to people going about their daily lives in a cynical attempt to highlight their campaign.

‘All they do each time they protest is to turn people away from their cause.

‘While they chose to disrupt, DDC continues to work proactively to reduce carbon emissions and help residents and businesses in practical ways to improve energy efficiency.’

 

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. 

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

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

The protest comes despite the government taking out an injunction against the group to stop them blocking the M25

Police officers were seen attempting to drag protesters away from the road, although it is unclear if they were successful

Police officers were seen attempting to drag protesters away from the road, although it is unclear if they were successful

Police officers tried to remove the protesters, though many of them appeared to have glued themselves to the road

Police officers tried to remove the protesters, though many of them appeared to have glued themselves to the road

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

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

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.

HGV driver shortage caused by Brexit and Covid pandemic

The well-documented shortage of lorry drivers has created gaps on supermarket shelves.

Britain is currently facing its own 100,000 shortfall of HGV drivers, which retail bosses have partly blamed on changes to migration rules post-Brexit and EU employees returning home.

The Road Haulage Association said the total number of people in the UK with HGV licences this summer is 516,000.

But the latest Department for Transport data shows 278,700 HGV drivers were employed in 2020, equivalent to 54 per cent of the total.

They put the shortage largely down to Brexit and the pandemic, which led to 14,000 European drivers going home and just 600 of those returning.

Since last year, the industry has also seen large numbers of drivers retiring, while lockdown has hit the training of new drivers with 40,000 HGV driver tests cancelled.

The average age of a UK lorry driver is put at 56 to 57 and not enough young people have joined the industry due to its long hours, unattractive conditions and poor pay.

Drivers’ median hourly pay has risen 10 per cent since 2015 to £11.80 – below the 16 per cent average across other sectors, with new tax changes also not in their favour.

Lorry drivers can only drive for nine hours each day, but many are away from home up to 15 hours a day – putting off many young people who do not want such hours.

Last week, Tesco drivers and warehouse workers at four distribution centres rejected the offer of a 2.5% pay increase.

If members vote for strike action then the supermarket giant could see empty shelves this winter which could potentially affect the Christmas period.

Unite said its members voted against a 2.5 per cent offer, arguing it was lower than the RPI rate of inflation so represented a real-terms pay cut.

‘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.’ 

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.  

The port is the busiest ferry port in Europe and is the UK's main gateway for trade from the EU

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

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

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

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

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'

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’

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.

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