Sheffield climate change activist 'willing to go to prison' over M25 protests

A Sheffield climate change activist who has been taking part in the M25 barricade protests has said he is ‘willing to go to prison’ for his cause.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 2:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 2:38 pm

This comes as the Government has announced its legal action against the protestors, who have been blocking stretches of the M25 over the past week.

Insulate Britain protester Dr Bing Jones, a 68-year-old retired NHS doctor from Nether Green, said the message of insulating homes in Britain was worth the personal risk involved with blocking the M25 – but he denied the group was putting other road users at risk.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, the Sheffield environmentalist – who protested on the M25 on Monday and has been arrested four times in the past eight days – said: “I accept that I put my life at risk. I don’t really accept that we have put other lives at risk.

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters occupying the clockwise and anti-clockwise lanes on the M25 in Surrey this morning. Issue date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.

“There are traffic jams continually, accidents happen daily, there are roadblocks for roadworks – all sorts of problems like that. The traffic increases and decreases in speed.

“I’m not worried about other people. I am a little bit worried about myself; my wife is very anxious about me.

“But I think it is worth it, I really think it is worth it. I’m willing to sacrifice, I’m willing to go to prison over this because people need to realise – people don’t see the maths.”

He added: “The disruption weighs heavy on me but it is necessary. Insulating houses is by far the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions within the UK and it could bring millions of people out of fuel poverty.”

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters occupying the clockwise and anti-clockwise lanes on the M25 in Surrey this morning. Issue date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.

Today (September 22), it was announced that National Highways wonn an interim injunction to prevent protesters from occupying the M25.

This means that those who breach the injunction will be in contempt of court and at risk of imprisonment of up to two years and an unlimited fine.

Ministers said they expect the potential punishment will act as ‘a deterrent for anyone thinking of re-joining the disruptive action.’

National Highways intends to return to court to extend the injunction and potentially seek additional powers of arrest.

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters occupying the clockwise and anti-clockwise lanes on the M25 in Surrey this morning. Issue date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:“We will not let these demonstrators wreak havoc on our roads, disrupt thousands of people’s journeys and put lives in danger. Not only are they creating more traffic and pollution, they are alienating the public from their own cause.

“Today, we’re taking action, bringing in further measures to stop those taking part in these self-defeating protests, while we continue the work we’re already carrying out to clean up our air and reach net zero.”

Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: “This injunction is an important step in stopping these activists putting lives needlessly at risk on our busy roads.

“Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for people to make their voices heard. It cannot be at the expense of public safety.”

Image courtesy of LBC showing police officers removing Insulate Britain activists from the M25 between junctions 9 and10 where the climate protesters carried out a further action after demonstrations which took place last week across junctions in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey. Picture date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.

Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse said: “These protests have endangered the lives of road users and the police officers who have responded quickly and responsibly.

“The police should be fighting crime in our neighbourhoods, not chasing activists across busy motorways. This is why we are taking this action now and we’ll be working with National Highways on a full injunction.”