Every year, millions of people join legal, peaceful demonstrations in this country to promote a cause they believe in, without harming the public or the environment around them. They have a right to do so.
But the Insulate Britain activists who have brought large sections of the M25 to a standstill in recent weeks have achieved the precise opposite.
They have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen, particularly as we all strive so hard to rebuild after 18 months of the pandemic.
Insulate Britain activists have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen, writes PRITI PATEL (pictured)
Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all, writes GRANT SHAPPS (pictured)
Transport is so crucial to that recovery. With every day that passes, our roads and railways are helping more businesses to grow, and more people to find jobs.
Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all.
As one van driver caught up in the chaos told a protester: 'You are making people hate you.'
The police have our full support to take decisive action and we're working with National Highways to take legal action against the protesters to ensure they cannot keep disrupting and endangering people's lives in this way.
We are giving them powers to better manage such guerrilla tactics in future.
In the medium-term, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will put public nuisance on a statutory footing, ensuring there are appropriate sentences for the harm caused.
People will continue to be able to make their voices heard without disrupting the lives of others. Even before the most recent demonstrations, the Metropolitan Police said that the actions of Extinction Rebellion – of which Insulate Britain is an offshoot – had cost the UK taxpayer a staggering £50million.
The events of recent weeks – including the cleaning of blue paint which protesters pointlessly poured on to the road – will add to that already significant drain on public funds.
It is also ironic that many of the cars that have been caught up in the queues and congestion around the M25 are electric, with zero carbon emissions.
There are now over half a million such cars in the UK, benefitting from one of the largest rapid charging networks in Europe.
Police arrive on the scene as protesters from the Insulate Britain pressure group block a roundabout near Stansted Airport last week
While Insulate Britain inflicts misery in its campaign of gesture politics, this government is getting on with the job of decarbonising our transport system by 2050.
Thousands of new charge points will encourage motorists to go electric in the coming decade as we phase out diesel and petrol. It is changes like this that make the difference, not posturing by a tiny minority who are arrogant enough to believe only they care about climate change.
We all agree that climate change must be tackled. But this sort of behaviour achieves nothing.
It puts drivers at risk – and idling cars actually increase pollution. While this group of eco-warriors parade for the cameras, we are getting on with the job of delivering our ambitious targets.
We will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish demonstrators to cause massive and dangerous disruption to the lives of the hard-working majority.