Fuel price protests add to road chaos on busiest summer gateway day in years

Convoys of slow moving protesters have clogged up the UK's motorways. Credit: PA

Fuel price protests across the UK caused further traffic jams on one of the busiest holiday getaway days of the year.

The RAC says it expects a record 18.8 million leisure trips are planned in the UK between Friday and Monday.

On Friday several protests organised by the Fuel Price Stand Against Tax group struck key motorways including the M3 and M5, with Police warning motorists that "slow-moving roadblocks" had been planned on parts of the M4, M25, M32 and A38.

To make matters even worse, the port of Dover has declared a critical incident as travellers and HGV drivers are being forced to queue for up to six hours to get on their ferry.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter he is “working closely” with his French counterpart: “There’s been severe delays today at Dover & so I’m working closely with my opposite number Clement Beaune to address the issues that caused tailbacks.

“I welcome his commitment that both Britain & France will work closely to minimise further disruption so people can get away quickly.”

What happened with the protests?

By Friday afternoon most of the protests had finished, with several moving to petrol stations.

By 10am on Friday, a slow-moving convoy started a rolling roadblock driving around 30mph on the M5.

Avon and Somerset Police said about ten vehicles were involved.

The group joined the motorway northbound at the J24 Bridgewater.

The convoy then left the motorway and stopped "for a period of time" before completing the same route in reverse, arriving back in Bridgwater.

Protesters then moved around several A roads in Bridgwater making demonstrations at several petrol stations, forcing them to close for a time.

A huge roadblock had also developed on the M3 heading towards London by 10am.

The jam stretched for over six miles.

An image posted on Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax suggests demonstrations will be held “nationwide”, including in Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester, but so far only the protests in the Midlands and around the capital appear to have happened.

This is the second protest of its kind after a similar demonstration on July 4 led to 12 people being arrested on the M4.

What is the situation in Dover?

The protest came as the UK suffers some of its worst gridlock in years as millions try and get away on their summer holidays.

On Friday many major roads in Kent were gridlocked as huge backlogs developed around Dover.

Police were controlling traffic at the roundabout nearest to the entrance for the port of Dover, with gridlocked vehicles lining Jubilee Way, the A2 from Canterbury, as well as the A20 along the seafront from Folkstone.Transport analytics company Inrix, said people are waiting for up to four hours on P&O Ferries, Dfds Seaways and Irish Ferries between Dover and Calais, and between Dover and Dunkerque due to high demand.

Heavy traffic was also expected on the M25, M3, M23, M4 and the A303 near Stonehenge

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...