National Highways has been granted an injunction against environmental protesters who have been blocking sections of the M25, it has been announced. The injunction, which would mean anyone breaching the order could face a prison sentence, will come into effect later today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Mr Shapps said "invading a motorway" is reckless and endangers lives, as he spelt out his plans in a tweet this morning.
"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," he said.
The government sought the move to stop environmental activists from Insulate Britain shutting down the M25 after five days of protests, causing massive tailbacks.
Mr Shapps said the group's tactics are counterproductive to their climate aims as the standing traffic they produce from blocking the highway "creates pollution".
The Transport Secretary told MPs the tactic was also inconvenient for motorists and is a danger to the roads.
'We do not think it is acceptable to go and stand on the roads,' Mr Shapps said
Confirming the plans, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the "important injunction" would mean "people can get moving again" on the M25. "We will not tolerate lives being put at risk," she tweeted.
It came a day after Surrey police arrested 38 climate protesters after members of Insulate Britain tried to block the M25 for the fifth time in just over a week.
They stopped traffic on both carriageways of the motorway between junctions 9 and 10, near Cobham in Surrey.
Insulate Britain, which is an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, has made headlines on five separate occasions for disrupting traffic on the UK’s busiest motorway during the morning rush hour.
On Friday morning, protesters targeted Junctions three, at Swanley in Kent, nine at Leatherhead in Surrey, and 28, near Brentwood in Essex.
Last Monday, the offshoot of Extinction Rebellion staged sit down protests at Junction 3 for Swanley in Kent, Junction 6 for Godstone in Surrey, Junction 14 for Heathrow Terminal 5, Junction 20 for Kings Langley in Hertfordshire, and Junction 31 for Purfleet in Essex.
The group claims that the recent rise in gas and electricity costs has “increased the urgency” for change and they would end their campaign as soon as they hear a “meaningful commitment” to their demands.
Spokesperson Liam Norton said: "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."