Commuters are set for further traffic chaos on Tuesday as Just Stop Oil protestors remain on top of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
The major road bridge linking Essex and Kent was closed after it was scaled by two climbers from the group who have vowed to remain there until they are “brought down”, the group has said.
The closure of the M25 Dartford Crossing caused delays of two hours during rush hour on Monday, with six miles of congestion on the anti-clockwise carriageway and five miles in the opposite direction, National Highways said.
Similar disruption is expected for the morning rush hour on Tuesday after the group, whose demands include that the government “halts all new oil and gas licences and consents”, said the activists will remain on the bridge’s masts all night.
What has Just Stop Oil said?
A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said on Monday evening that the protesters were “all set up” to spend the night on top of the bridge, adding that the group has further actions planned in London throughout October.
The group said: “Two climbers ascended the two 84m masts on the north side of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, forcing the police to stop traffic from entering the bridge,” adding: “It is expected that the bridge will remain shut for at least 24 hours.”
Morgan Trowland, 39, a bridge design engineer from London, said in a statement released by Just Stop Oil: “As a professional civil engineer, each year as I renew my registration I commit to acting within our code of ethics, which requires me to safeguard human life and welfare and the environment.
“Our Government has enacted suicidal laws to accelerate oil production, killing human life and destroying our environment.
“I can’t challenge this madness in my desk job, designing bridges, so I’m taking direct action, occupying the QEII bridge until the Government stops all new oil.”
Another protester, identified as Marcus, 33, a teacher from London, said: “Only direct action will now help to reach the social tipping point we so urgently need.”
Police say it’s a ‘complex operation’
Essex Police said officers were called shortly before 3.50am on Monday to a report that two people had climbed on to the bridge at the Dartford Crossing.
Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said his priorities were to “keep people safe and keep Essex moving”.
An Essex Police spokesman said it was a “complex operation” due to how high the protesters had climbed, stating: “The QEII bridge is closed to allow us to resolve the situation as safely as possible and a diversion is in place through the tunnel.
“This is a complex operation due to the height at which the protesters are currently situated and it may take some time, but we are working as quickly as possible.
“We appreciate your patience and understanding and will keep you updated through the day.”
Is the Dartford Crossing still closed?
National Highways East said the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford Crossing remains closed this morning due to the ongoing protest, and reported six miles of congestion on approach in both directions.
There are currently long delays on the M25 anti-clockwise between J4 and J1A and clockwise between J29 and J31. In addition there are also delays on the A2 westbound towards Dartford between the A2260 (near Southfleet) and the B255 (near Swanscombe)
All southbound/clockwise traffic is being diverted through the East Bore of the Dartford Tunnel.
The A282 Dartford Crossing is the only way to cross the Thames east of London by road. The 1.7-mile QEII Bridge southbound and two 0.8-mile tunnels northbound link Essex and Kent.
The A282 also connects directly at both ends with the M25 London orbital motorway, one of the busiest in Europe.
Drivers are being advised to avoid travelling to the Dartford Crossing and consider alternative routes.