'We won't be intimidated': Green groups say compensation plan won't stop disruptive protests

Tens of thousands of people have been impacted by disruptive protests carried out by groups including Just Stop Oil (left) and Extinction Rebellion (right). Credit: PA

Protest groups could be forced to pay compensation to anyone impacted by their disruptive protests - but one of the most obstructive, Just Stop Oil, has told ITV News the plan will not work.

Road block demonstrations by environmental activists have cost the UK taxpayer tens of millions of pounds in recent years, and impacted tens of thousands of people.

But, despite several activists being jailed for their involvement, protests promoting green policies have continued around the country.

So, ahead of an expected summer of disruption, a number of proposals have been recommended by Lord Walney, the government’s adviser on political violence and disruption, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

One idea would see groups being treated by police in the same way proscribed terror groups are, if they repeatedly carry out illegal protests.

Another would see protest groups forced to pay compensation to any individual, business or institution which could prove they endured loss, distress or suffering from an illegal protest.

The newspaper suggested the compensation scheme could be modelled on the small claims court system or along the lines of the financial services ombudsman.

But Just Stop Oil said it will not stop disruptive protests, nor be intimidated by the proposed policies.

It also went on the attack, accusing the government of itself breaking the law.

"In truth it's the government who are dangerous lawbreakers - their climate strategy has just been declared unlawful for the second time," a spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, a High Court judge ruled the government acted unlawfully by approving a plan to cut carbon emissions, which it said relied too heavily on future technologies.

Extinction Rebellion, an affiliated environmental protest group, accepted the policy would have an impact, but suggested it would not be deterred.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…

It said people protest because "they have tried all other avenues and have come to the end of the road to have their voices heard".

A spokesperson added: "Promoting punishments and costs will inevitably discourage all forms of protest, and will help shield both the government and private companies from visible criticism of their policies.

"No one should be silenced in a free society from expressing outrage at businesses and institutions who are directly responsible for the breakdown of our climate.

"If anyone should be paying anything, it should be the polluters, the companies profiting, and countries paying reparations to those already impacted by climate and ecological breakdown."

The review by Lord Walney, which is expected to be published on Tuesday, is intended to increase the government’s understanding of the increase in activity by far-right, far-left and other political groups, and identify where activities can cross into criminality and disruption.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Extremism of any kind has no place in our society and we will not tolerate tactics that set out to intimidate, threaten or cause disruption to the law-abiding majority.

“In recent months, we have also witnessed a small number of protestors display violent and hateful behaviour, and the police have our full support in tackling extremism and hate crime.

“We will consider the report’s final recommendations extremely carefully and will respond in due course.”

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