Published: 08:48, 24 September 2021
| Updated: 21:00, 24 September 2021
The High Court has granted an interim injunction preventing protesters from occupying the A20 and other major roads heading towards the Port of Dover after another day of chaos and disruption.
Thirty nine people were arrested after Insulate Britain blockaded the port, just days after they were told they face jail if they shut down the M25 again.
A YouTube video live streamed the protest for an hour
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this evening: “We are absolutely committed to protecting the right to peaceful protest, but it is unacceptable that people cannot go about their day-to-day businesses and that businesses or critical supplies should be put on a knife’s edge because of the reckless actions of a few protesters.”
Those who breach the injunction will be in contempt of court and at risk of imprisonment and an unlimited fine, the government said.
This morning, orange-bibbed activists campaigning for the government to insulate all houses in the UK sat across the entrance and exit to Europe's busiest ferry port.
Police were seen pulling away protesters early on, while a second group strayed onto the A20.
But having arrived at just after 8am it took until just before 10am for arrests to be made.
Some activists had glued their hands to the Tarmac, but at one point moved aside so an ambulance on an emergency call could pass by.
By 10.15am the last man blocking the exit had been led off by police to cheers from onlookers.
By 1pm traffic was flowing freely and about half an hour later two protesters who had glued themselves to a tanker roof had climbed down.
Initially 17 people were arrested but police say 39 have been taken into custody.
'The impact this disruption had on the local community and port-bound traffic is not lost on us.'
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "A total of thirty-nine people have been arrested following protest activity in Dover.
"The individuals were detained on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and obstructing a highway after Kent Police was called at around 8.20am to reports that a group of people were obstructing the road on Jubilee Way, a second group were at Snargate Street at the junction with A20 and a third smaller group on the A20 at the junction with Aycliffe.
"They remain in custody as enquiries continue and all roads are clear."
Chief Superintendent Simon Thompson from Kent Police added: "The impact this disruption had on the local community and port-bound traffic is not lost on us and I would like to thank those adversely affected by it for their patience whilst we made the area safe again.
"Kent Police is working with the other forces, the CPS and partner agencies to gather evidence and ensure there are consequences for those who break the law."
By this afternoon, the Port of Dover said traffic in and out of the Port was moving freely, but TAP remained in place and active to clear the last of the backlog.
The earlier injunction was applied for by National Highways, the body which runs the nation's motorways, but A roads are maintained by KCC.
Protesters block the entrance to the port Video: Insulate Britain
In a press release on its website, which quoted Winston Churchill, Insulate Britain said more than 40 activists were at Dover this morning.
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, it’s also what it takes to sit down," it said.
Two groups blocked the A20 at the Eastern Docks roundabout and near the junction with Union Street for the Western Docks.
A spokesman apologised for the disruption but said insulating homes was a "no brainer".
He added Dover had been targeted as so many people in the area are living in fuel poverty (9.5% of homes), adding: "We need a Churchillian response: we must tell the truth about the urgent horror of the Climate Emergency.
"Change at the necessary speed and scale requires economic disruption. We wish it wasn't true, but it is. It’s why the 2000 fuel protests got a U-turn in policy and gave Blair his biggest challenge as Prime Minister.”
The Port of Dover advised customers to allow more time for their journey this morning.
Its CEO Doug Bannister, said: "The Port has implemented its tried and tested resilience plans in order to deal with the impact of the protest.
"The Port has consistently shown its ability to deal with such challenges and today’s targeted activity shows once again the importance and symbolism of Dover to the nation as a critical trade and tourism artery on which the UK continues to rely.
"We are working with our customers and the police authorities in managing the situation and apologise to our community for any disruption being caused by a situation not of our making."
South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, responds to the Insulate Britain protest
Dover Town Councillor Neil Rix, who owns N.T.Rix scaffolding and demolition, said the demonstration was "not fair" to the people of Dover.
He said: "I've got lorries and staff stuck in it. It's an absolute nuisance to be honest.
"We've got contractors waiting for scaffolding to go up but we've got three lorries stuck and around 23 people.
"It's costing us thousands of pounds.
"It is just causing interruptions for every person in town. It's not fair and it's not right. Before you know it all the roads in town will be blocked.
"It's so selfish of them. It's costing money when we're trying to get through a pandemic.
"I don't suppose these people are from Dover."
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council also condemned the actions of those involved.
He said: "Today’s demonstration in Dover is totally unacceptable and has led to disruption for local residents, businesses and port users.
"This has nothing to do with fuel poverty. They targeted the Port of Dover to cause maximum disruption to people going about their daily lives in a cynical attempt to highlight their campaign.
"All they do each time they protest is to turn people away from their cause.
"While they chose to disrupt, DDC continues to work proactively to reduce carbon emissions and help residents and businesses in practical ways to improve energy efficiency.”
MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke has also hit out: "Immediate action must be taken to clear these hooligans from obstructing the @Port_of_Dover
"There must be no repeat of the appalling and unacceptable scenes we saw on the M25. The law must be enforced without delay.
"The Port is the vital artery of our nation’s trade - about one-fifth of all trade comes through Dover. We simply cannot afford further disruption to food and goods at this time."
This afternoon, Mr Shapps had said: "We won't tolerate reckless behaviour on motorways or ports (Dover this morning).
"I’m therefore seeking a further injunction to prevent this disruption.
"Living in a democracy everyone is entitled to protest, but that doesn't extend to closing roads and ruining livelihoods."
Before today the group had shut down parts of the M25 five times.
Craig Scudder from Insulate Britain speaks after the Dover protests
Earlier this week Mr Shapps wrote on Twitter: “Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk.
“I asked National Highways to seek an injunction against M25 protestors which a judge granted last night.
“Effective later today, activists will face contempt of court with possible imprisonment if they flout.”
Insulate Britain once again descended on the M25 on Tuesday, running into the main carriageway and bringing rush-hour traffic to a standstill.
Around 30 protesters tussled with police and blocked both carriageways near Junction 10 at Cobham in Surrey at 8am.
But police dragged activists to the hard shoulder and hurled their banners out of the way, arresting 23.
Within half an hour the road was open again.
The group said on its website new people had joined the protest along with some who had participated in all five.
On Monday Boris Johnson said the group had achieved nothing but a spokesman said there was "no evidence" its cause had been set back.
Liam Norton said: “The idea that people would suddenly decide insulating our leaky homes is a bad idea as a result of our campaign is frankly laughable. We are simply asking the government to get on with the job.
“The people of Britain understand that climate change is a severe threat to everything they hold dear. They are looking to the government for leadership. We have a practical solution and have received encouragement for our aims from many construction industry professionals. ”
Dr Diana Warner, a retired GP from Gloucestershire, added: “Insulating homes is such a necessary action right now, for health, economy and climate. All our homes. Only the government can get that done. Boris just needs to get on with it. This is a practical way to start to level up Britain. No words, we need action and results.”
On Monday police swooped on protesters as they attempted to block the M25 in Kent.
Separate groups had already brought traffic to a standstill in Hertfordshire but at the Dartford Crossing junction 12 activists were detained before they could get on to the road.
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "At around 8.30am on Monday we received information that people were attempting to gain access to the M25 at junction 1a, the Dartford River Crossing.
"Officers attended and 12 people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance before they were able to gain access to the carriageway. They are currently in custody."
At 8am on Monday around 15 protesters turned up at Junction 18 in Hertfordshire and sat across a slip road, although within half an hour police had arrived and removed them.
Police were also called to the A1 M junction elsewhere in the county.
One protester told LBC: "Why has the government not responded? Reasonable protest is ignored, it is only by taking radical action we are going to get a response to a climate emergency."
Blue paint was poured across the carriageway and large hearts painted on the Tarmac.
The group was responsible for huge delays in Kent and further afield last week as well.
In an announcement on its website over the weekend the group said only one person who participated in multiple roadblocks last week had been remanded in custody.
It's requests to get the speed limit on the M25 reduced during its protests fell on deaf ears.
"Given that this is a standard safety procedure when hazards occur on the motorway, Insulate Britain is surprised it has not formed part of the response to the campaign," it said.
They had already blocked the motorway at Dartford, with some protesters glueing their hands to the road.
Its members are demanding two policy changes from the government.
They want the government to immediately promise to fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025.
They also want the government to "produce within four months a legally binding national plan to fully fund and take responsibility for the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit, with no externalised costs, of all homes in Britain by 2030".
Outlining its request for Highways England to help facilitate the protest, the group said: "In the context of the horror of the climate crisis we believe that it is entirely proportionate to create disruption on the motorway network if it means the UK Government fulfils its legal obligation of staying below 2°C which will stop the unimaginable suffering for future generations."