Just Stop Oil protesters have gone ahead with action to disrupt sections of England’s busiest motorway despite a major Metropolitan Police operation to foil their plans.
A spokeswoman for Just Stop Oil confirmed that “action has gone ahead in multiple locations on the M25” on Monday morning.
Surrey Police said officers had shut the road between junctions six and seven for a time as the force’s “protester removal team” dealt with an activist who had climbed onto the motorway gantry.
The force tweeted that it had reports there were also protesters at several other locations along the motorway and pledged to “get this resolved as soon as possible”.
Essex Police said arrests were made after reports of people climbing up an overhead gantry close to junction 30 of the M25.
It comes after the Metropolitan Police launched a “significant” operation to identify and arrest climate change protesters suspected of planning “reckless and serious” motorway disruption as COP27 begins.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said three people were arrested on Sunday evening (6 November) who were suspected of planning public disruption, with police expecting to make more arrests overnight.
The Met Police said it has a “strong reason to suspect the Just Stop Oil group intend to disrupt major motorway road networks” and is calling on the public to assist with preventing public disruption by reporting protesters to 999.
According to the Met, which is conducting the operation in conjunction with the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), more than 10,000 officer shifts have been dedicated to policing Just Stop Oil protests since the start of October.
What is happening on the M25?
The M25 has been closed between junctions six and seven in Surrey today (7 November) after a protester climbed an overhead gantry.
Surrey Police said the decision was made to close the road “for the safety of everyone” while officers attempted to remove the activist.
The force tweeted: “Officers are on the scene and currently dealing with one protester who has climbed onto the motorway gantry at junction 6 towards 7 of the M25 this morning (7 November). Traffic is still moving at this moment.
“For the safety of everyone involved National Highways has made the decision to shut the road from junctions 6-7 northbound on the M25. Please avoid the area if possible. The protester removal team are on scene and preparing to go up onto the gantry.”
A protester also targeted junction 30 of the major motorway circling London, with Essex Police urging the public “not to intervene”.
The force tweeted: “We are currently responding to reports of people climbing up an overhead gantry close to Junction 30 of the M25. Arrests have been made already. We are dealing robustly and ask the public not to intervene.”
Shortly before 8am on Monday, the Met said it had arrested a further four people for conspiracy to cause public nuisance at an address in south London.
Mr Twist said: “Our investigation has strong reason to suspect the Just Stop Oil group intend to disrupt major motorway road networks which would risk serious harm to the public, with reckless action to obstruct the public on a large scale. All those arrested are suspected of engaging in conspiracy to cause public nuisance contrary to Section 78 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
“There remains a possibility outstanding suspects are still intent on causing unlawful disruption to the public. The Met has mobilised specialist teams and drawn police officers from across the capital to respond.”
He added: “These are officers who would otherwise be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries. We are determined to bring to justice all of those who conspire to cause significant and unreasonable disruption to London, or cause damage to buildings, property or valuables.
“It’s what the public expects, and we’ll work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and Courts to make sure this happens.”
Why is Just Stop Oil protesting?
Just Stop Oil staged 32 days of disruption from the end of September and throughout October. The Met said this resulted in 677 arrests with 111 people charged, and officers working a total of 9,438 additional shifts.
The climate change action group has been calling on the government to abandon plans to licence more than 100 new oil and gas projects by 2025, and to do more to help people with their skyrocketing energy bills. Their demands to the government suggests it is highly likely they will stage protests as the COP27 world climate summit begins this week.
Just Stop Oil said in a recent statement: “Policy failures… will force millions into poverty and fac(e) a choice between heating, eating, or providing the basic essentials for themselves and their families.
“After decades of climate misinformation and delay, we face an existential crisis. We are going to lose all we hold dear. We need to ditch new oil and gas now and we need to change our politics, so that in future everyone can have a say in the decisions that will determine the future of humanity.”
According to the group, since its campaign began on 1 April, Just Stop Oil supporters have been arrested nearly 2,000 times. Five of their supporters are currently in prison.