Published: 13:25, 14 September 2021
| Updated: 16:02, 15 September 2021
Climate change protesters arrested after blocking various M25 junctions during morning rush hour have been released while police weigh up "an appropriate course of action".
Officers were called to a string of demonstrations blocking slip roads across the major motorway network yesterday morning.
Dozens were arrested over the protests yesterday
It saw huge delays on the Dartford Crossing and near junction three for the Swanley Interchange where protestors blockaded the roundabout.
Other areas affected included junctions 31 for Lakeside, Essex, 14 for Heathrow terminal four, and six for Godstone, Surrey.
Activists from environmental group Insulate Britain – who are aiming to pressurise the government into speeding up the job of insulating Britain’s homes – waved placards and banners saying "sorry to stop you" and staged sit-ins as traffic was brought to a grinding halt.
In some areas the protests erupted into clashes with drivers with at least two motorists seen attempting to forcibly remove demonstrators after criticising perceived police inaction.
But Kent Police, who attended the Swanley Interchange, where a diversion was put in place to ease the flow of traffic, later arrested 12 people on suspicion of obstructing the highway.
Protesters clash with drivers near M25
The force says they have since been released from custody while "an appropriate course of action is determined".
Elsewhere, in Essex, nine people who were arrested on suspicion of highways obstruction after reports of an incident near the Dartford Crossing on the Thurrock side, have been released under investigation.
Three other people also arrested on suspicion of the same offence, have been released on bail until October 8. Various arrests were also made by Surrey and Hertfordshire police forces.
But members of Insulate Britain, which claimed responsibility for the disruption, have vowed to "keep going” until the government acts to insulate all social homes. A petition has also been lodged with Parliament.
The pressure group went on to add yesterday's action was "just the start".
It says its demands are first, that the UK government immediately promises to fully fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025.
Secondly, it wants policy-makers to immediately promise to produce, within four months, a legally binding national plan to fully fund and take responsibility for the full retrofit of all homes in Britain by 2030.
Protester Theo Simon told KMTV: "So what Insulate Britain are saying is the government needs to get on with insulating the housing stock in Britain.
"We intend to keep taking this action until we get a response from them that they plan to take this work."
But the group's methods came under fire on social media where many people pointed out the disruption to working people and kids who were hours late for school.
There were also concerns over disruption to emergency service vehicles, although Insulate Britain later posted footage where a group was seen letting an ambulance pass through.
Frustration over yesterday's events spilled over this morning when Good Morning Britain presenters Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley questioned a spokesman for the group over perceived hypocrisy over the impact of idling cars.
Speaking to Liam Norton this morning, Susanna said on the ITV show: "Traffic delays add to vehicle emissions.
"The point about traffic emissions is certainly not ridiculous. I'd link it to traffic because you've held it up for hours.
"It's not healthy for our air pollution is it?"
But the guest dismissed the comments, instead suggesting Susanna's remarks and line of questioning were "ridiculous".
Co-presenter Richard Madeley then reacted angrily to this assertion and drew the broadcast to a close.