National Highways has secured a new injunction as it continues to try to stop protesters from disrupting England’s busiest roads.
The High Court has granted a further injunction following an urgent out-of-hours application that specifically seeks to prevent unlawful protests on the M25 motorway. It applies to all individuals although the intent is primarily to target any protest organised by Just Stop Oil on the orbital motorway.
The injunction means that anyone entering or remaining upon or affixing themselves to any object or any structure on the M25 (or anyone causing, assisting, facilitating or encouraging any other person to do so) without National Highways’ express consent may be held to be in contempt of court. They could fac
e imprisonment, an unlimited fine, the seizure of assets or all of these sanctions for breaching the order.
A copy of the Order can be found at https://nationalhighways.co.uk/about-us/high-court-injunctions-for-motorways-and-major-a-roads/. National Highways says this pre-emptive measure is intended to act as a further deterrent to anyone intending to carry out unlawful protest activity on the M25.
It says climbing on structures such as gantries adjacent to or overlying roads is extremely dangerous – both for the protesters themselves and motorists – and the move underlines the efforts being made to stop disruption to the roads by a selfish minority who pay no regard for the impact of their actions on others going about their daily business.
The injunction was secured in addition to an existing court order obtained by National Highways earlier this year.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper 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.”
Duncan Smith, Executive Director for Operations, 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.
It says there is a degree of crossover between the scope of the two injunctions. For procedural legal reasons, it is often appropriate to seek targeted remedies wherever possible, which allows for greater speed and ease of enforcement.
The company says it continues to work closely and collaboratively with police forces across areas affected by protests with the aim of keeping disruption to the public to a minimum by the legal means available to it, and that in addition to obtaining and enforcing civil injunctions which National Highways have secured in the civil courts, the police separately have a range of powers to enforce criminal offences relating to protests on roads.
(Picture – Just Stop Oil website)