The Home Secretary has announced the Government will introduce tougher powers to deal with climate change activists who have caused chaos on the roads by blocking motorways, including unlimited fines and up to six months’ jail time. Police will also be given the power to stop and search activists for “lock-on” equipment which they use to prevent themselves from being removed. The activist group has been protesting on the motorways around London for the past three weeks, with more than 300 arrests to date.
Ms Patel announced her new plan at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
But a spokesperson from Insulate Britain insists these new powers will be ineffective.
Insulate Britain spokesman Liam Norton, an electrician from London, told Express.co.uk: “I think whenever you push against the state or the Government in this way it would be naive to expect they won’t push back.”
However, he said he thought the Government “had been naive to think these kinds of punitive powers are going to stop people” from continuing to block the motorways.
The extreme action comes after a damning report published by the IPCC (a United Nations group) found manmade global warming has already caused “unprecedented” and “irreversible” changes to the climate.
Approved by 195 governments, the report also warns that global temperatures are set to hit 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within the next 20 years – a decade earlier than previously forecast.
This will bring increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons, while 2°C of global warming would see heat extremes often reach “critical tolerance thresholds” for agriculture and health.
In light of these findings, Insulate Britain argue their civil disobedience is justified and insist the new rules “don’t change anything”.
Ahead of her conference speech, Ms Patel said: “The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy but we will not tolerate guerrilla tactics that obstruct people going about their day-to-day business.
“That is why we will increase the maximum penalty for disrupting a motorway to an unlimited fine or up to six months in prison – or both.
“Whilst the Labour Party stand on the side of these so-called ‘activists’, the Conservative party will always back the law-abiding, hard-working majority of people in this country.”
Despite the threat of jail, Insulate Britain say they will continue to cause disruption on the motorways until the Government promises to insulate all housing in Britain by 2030 – starting with all social housing by 2025.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he respected the right to protest but argued there is “no right to inflict chaos and misery on people trying to go about their lives”.
He said: “This Government will always stand on the side of the law-abiding majority, and ensure the toughest penalties possible for criminals who deliberately bring major roads to a standstill.
“We will give the police the powers they need to stop their reckless and selfish behaviour.”
Currently, around 8,500 people die in the UK every year because of inadequate heating – a statistic Insulate Britain has described as “shameful”.
The project would also create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and slash the source of 20 percent of British greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Norton said: “Our message to Priti Patel is: make your choice.
“Are you choosing to destroy the future of this country, and by doing that you’re going to have to lock people up, and that means that you believe in this kind of Carbon Project which is destroying everybody.
“Or make the other choice, and see that the kinds of things that insulate Britain are proposing are actually the way forward for this country.”
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.