National Highways has secured a new injunction intended to deter protesters from disrupting England’s busiest motorway.
The High Court injunction covers structures on the M25 will remain in place until mid November next year, or until the High Court makes any further order.
The injunction, granted before the Honourable Mr Justice Soole, seeks to prevent unlawful protests on the motorway around Greater London.
It means that anyone entering, remaining upon or affixing themselves to any object or to any structure on the M25 Motorway (or anyone causing, assisting, facilitating or encouraging any other person to do so) without National Highways’ express prior consent may face civil proceedings for contempt of court for breaching the injunction order. They could face imprisonment, an unlimited fine, the seizure of assets or a combination of these sanctions.
The injunction specifically names 65 individuals who were arrested by police as a result of their involvement in recent protest activity on M25 gantries organised by Just Stop Oil. This includes some individuals supporting those unlawful protests from Animal Rebellion and Insulate Britain.
The M25 is the country’s busiest motorway and has previously been the focus of hugely disruptive protest action. It is used by up to 200,000 vehicles each day, supporting journeys in and around London, providing connections to the South East’s ports and acting as a vital link to the rest of England’s road network.
Earlier this month, protesters targeted the motorway over a four-day period, causing significant disruption to drivers and the economy. The motorway must be closed for safety reasons when protesters are overhead.
National Highways says it will be pursuing civil proceedings for contempt of court against a number of individuals arrested during this month’s protests. Evidence is being gathered and reviewed in relation to potential civil contempt of court proceedings.
National Highways adds that it remains concerned that the motorway will continue to be targeted by Just Stop Oil and other protesters over coming weeks and months, underlining the need for the civil injunction order in an effort to deter unlawful protest on the M25.
This is one of several injunctions obtained by National Highways to deter protests on the strategic road network in the past 12 months.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The reckless, selfish actions of a small group of protestors has stopped children getting to school, people getting to work, and emergency service workers from their critical work.
“That’s why, in my first week as Transport Secretary, I instructed National Highways to secure an injunction in anticipation of upcoming disruption. I have followed this up by ordering National Highways to secure this further injunction on the M25, which will be in place for a year. This means any activist flouting the law could face fines, civil contempt of court proceedings or even imprisonment.
“Free speech and lawful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but putting peoples safety and livelihoods at risk due to selfish and unlawful protest activity will not be tolerated.”
Sean Martell, National Highways’ Head of Service Delivery in the South East, 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.
“Climbing on structures such as gantries is extremely dangerous – both for the protesters themselves and motorists – and we’re committed to doing all we can to seek to prevent a small minority from causing disruption on the network.
“We’re extremely concerned that the M25 will continue to be targeted by protesters and this underlines the importance and need for the civil injunctions to deter unlawful protest activity.”
Read the full judgement here.
This earlier injunction covers the M25, the M25 feeder roads and major roads in Kent and around the Port of Dover.
(Picture – Dartford Crossing protest, courtesy Just Stop Oil)