Who are Just Stop Oil? Why did they blockade the M25 and what are they protesting against?

Just Stop Oil protesters held a demonstration on the M25 during the early-morning rush hour after the UK saw its hottest day on record

Activist group Just Stop Oil has caused delays for commuters after staging a protest on the M25.

Members of the group formed a blockade on the busy motorway and scaled motorway signs as part of their demonstration.

Protesters climbed signs at junction 10 eastbound near Cobham, Surrey, the Poyle interchange at Heathrow between junctions 14 and 15, and in Dartford between the Queen Elizabeth Bridge northbound and junction 30.

It comes as Just Stop Oil ramp up its protests, with significant demonstrations taking place in the past few months.

But who are Just Stop Oil, and what are the aims of the group?

Just Stop Oil have been holding protests across the UK in the recent months. (Credit: Getty Images)

Who is Just Stop Oil? 

Just Stop Oil is a relatively newly-formed climate activist group.

Members have hit the headlines in the past for demonstrating and protesting high-profile events and at notable locations across the country.

The group formed in February 2022, and shortly after forming, protested at the red carpet for the 2022 BAFTA FilmAwards on 13 March.

Members chanted the slogan “just stop oil” while gaming drums close to the red carpet as celebrities made their way into the Royal Albert Hall in London.

They hit the headlines again later that same month, after individual members of the group ran on the park at several Premier League football games.

In a now-famous image, security struggled to remove one protester who had cable tied themselves to the goalposts at Goodison Park during a match between Everton and Newcastle United.

Security teams attempt to remove a Just Stop Oil protester from the goalposts at Goodison Park. (Credit: Getty Images)

Similarly, one member of Just Stop Oil made it onto the pitch at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton the following day.

A further six protesters attempted to invade the pitch during a match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, however they were swiftly removed by security and later banned from the stadium.

Just Stop Oil has also taken part in blockades which have attempted to block oil facilities across the country.

Protesters have in the past blocked the road to oil facilities. (Credit: Getty Images)

This led to oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, temporarily suspending operations as they were unable to leave the premises.

Recently, the activist group indeed the National Gallery in London and glued themselves to the 1821 John Constable painting The Hay Wain.

An image of an “apocalyptic vision of the future” was placed on top of the historical artwork before police arrested three protesters.

A similar protest also took place at the Royal  Academy of the Arts, when members glued themselves to a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and spray-painted the words ‘No New Oil’ on the wall underneath.

A demonstration was held in the National Gallery, with members gluing themselves to the artwork ‘The Hay wain by John Constable. (Credit: Getty Images)

What are the aims of Just Stop Oil? 

Just Stop Oil’s aims are fairly self-explanatory.

The group is aiming to stop the UK Government from creating new fossil fuel licensing and production.

Demonstrators have criticised plans to open new oil fields, while also criticising the government’s lack of commitment to net zero emission targets.

Why did Just Stop Oil block the M25? 

The protest on 20 July saw five demonstrators scale motorway signs on the M25 during the early morning rush-hour.

Surrey Police confirmed the protest, saying in a statement: “Officers were called just after 7am this morning following reports of a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway.

“Officers attended the scene and located a female protester sitting on top of a gantry over the motorway.

“Three lanes needed to be closed while we worked to safely remove the woman, which involved a specialist team trained in dealing with incidents at height.”

Police confirmed that a 22-year-old woman had been arrested in connection with the demonstration.

Just Stop Oil has said the demonstration came after record-breaking temperatures of upwards of 40C were seen in the UK for the first time.

A spokesman for the group said: “The main thing is, we’ve just seen 40C temperatures, which have been predicted for decades, maybe it’s happening a bit faster. But it has just revealed how inadequate the Government’s preparations for climate change are and their entire policy, and basically we’re just saying it’s evident now we cannot continue.

“As we’re going on, we need to stop new oil. It’s the first step to ensuring we have a liveable future, and maybe it’s already too late.

“This is something we definitely need to do.”

They added that the government must make a “meaningful statement” to signal their intention to distance the country from the production and consumption of fossil fuels in the UK.