An interim injunction has been granted to prevent protesters from occupying strategic roads around the Port of Dover, after climate change demonstrators caused chaos earlier in the day.
On Friday, Kent Police arrested 39 people when activists with Insulate Britain – an offshoot of climate change group Extinction Rebellion – sat down on roads in and out of the cross-Channel ferry port at about 8.20am on Friday.
The demonstration created long queues of vehicles, with several drivers remonstrating with the activists.
On Friday evening, the High Court granted National Highways (formerly Highways England and the Highways Agency) the interim injunction.
Afterwards, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.
The injunction request came after the group blocked parts of the M25 five times in the past fortnight, much to the ire of motorists and passengers caught up in miles of snaking traffic.
On Wednesday, it was announced that National Highways had been granted an injunction against environmental protesters who have been blocking sections of the M25.
Kent Police said those arrested were detained on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and obstructing a highway, over demonstrations at Jubilee Way, Snargate Street and the A20 junction with Aycliffe.
“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," Chief Superintendent Simon Thompson said.
Two protesters on top of a tanker have been told by a police officer that they are under arrest for “conspiracy to cause public nuisance and obstruction of a highway”.
One of the officers on top of the tanker earlier appeared to be trying to unstick one of the protester’s hands from the metal railing using a syringe.
One of the protesters on the tanker – Stephanie, 27 – said: “We do not want to be here. “I want to be home with my family spending time with them but if we don’t do this they aren’t going to have a future."
She added: “The government are not doing enough. On the current trajectory we are heading for chaos.”
The other protester sitting on the tanker, 28-year-old Josh, said: “We are here today to get the government to insulate the houses of the UK.
“The reason being is because per-pound invested insulation is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce CO2.”
The pair are thought to have travelled down to Dover from Manchester.
The environmental protestors also held a demonstration outside the Home Office’s Westminster headquarters.
An offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, the campaigners want the government to insulate and retrofit homes across the UK to cut climate emissions.
A spokesperson on Friday said: "We are blocking Dover this morning to highlight that fuel poverty is killing people in Dover and across the UK.
"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 (Tony) Blair his biggest challenge as prime minister."
The Port of Dover - used by an average of 6,200 road haulage vehicles every day last year- is Europe’s busiest ferry port, handling 17% of the UK’s trade in goods. The blockage comes amid disruption to supplies across the UK due to a shortage of lorry drivers.
Responding to protests at the Port of Dover, a government spokesperson said: “Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for people to make their voices heard, but that is not on busy roads or at a vital port, putting lives at risk.
“The demonstrations we have seen over the last few weeks have wreaked havoc on our roads, disrupted thousands of people and put lives in danger, and we are taking action to prevent these kinds of guerrilla tactics being used in the future.
“We thank the police for their quick and decisive action to remove the protestors and keep the port open.”
'Why have you not insulated your own home for a start?'
Earlier in the week a spokesperson for the group stormed off ITV's Good Morning Britain after being accused of "hypocrisy" for reportedly not insulating his own home.
Liam Norton said the debate was being "debased", adding it costs "tens of thousands" to insulate a property.