Insulate Britain threatens to resume road protests in October
- Credit: Victoria Jones/PA
The protest group which staged campaigns on the M25 motorway has threatened to begin a campaign of civil resistance in October.
Insulate Britain - part of the Just Stop Oil coalition - sent a letter to prime minister Liz Truss today (Tuesday, September 13) to mark one year since its first M25 protest.
In the letter, protesters said they back the Don't Pay UK campaign, which urges householders not to pay their energy bills in the face of rising prices - and profits - for large energy firms.
They are demanding a pledge from Liz Truss that she will halt new oil and gas projects in the UK, and a pledge from the government that it will scale up retrofit funding for "cold and leaky homes" in the UK.
The letter reads: "We love all of you.
"We love this country.
"It is from this place of love, for everyone living in Britain today, and people around the world, that we prepare to once again risk our liberty to demand that we, the public, get what we all deserve - a safe home and a decent standard of living.
"We take no pleasure in causing disruption, far from it, our supporters find it deeply uncomfortable, scary and upsetting.
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"However, there is nowhere we would rather be than on a road peacefully resisting this government criminality.
"We must face the reality: as the government’s own former scientific advisor has warned, what we do in the next two to three years is going to determine the future of humanity."
It adds: "One year ago today, on Monday, September 13 at 8am, 78 supporters of Insulate Britain began a campaign of nonviolent civil resistance on the M25 to demand that the government insulate Britain’s cold and leaky homes, starting with social housing by 2025.
"Against all the odds, we had hoped that after we left the roads our government would get on with the job.
"But a year on, millions and millions of families are worse off than ever and are fighting for their lives in a cost of living crisis. It seems that Britain needs us back more than ever.
"Over the winter, whilst our supporters were sent to prison, thousands of people in the UK died because they could not afford the basic means to look after themselves, and to eat and keep their homes warm.
"We write at a time of national and global grief, as we remember our Queen, her long reign and legacy, and as we prepare to look forward.
"We are sure you will agree, this is truly a pivotal moment in our history.
"As our new Prime Minister takes office, Insulate Britain wants to reaffirm that we will not stand by as millions of people are terrorised by fuel poverty this winter because our politicians are either too stupid or too scared to do what is right.
"We will take it one day at a time as we did last year.
"Insulate Britain will be joining the Just Stop Oil Coalition from Saturday, October 1 to occupy Westminster.
"We anticipate thousands of ordinary people, like you and us, will be there.
"We know collectively we can meet the trying challenges of our time but we will only be effective if we stop pretending and face our reality.
"Let us be clear: for us the ordinary public of Britain, this is our final hour.
"We all now have a duty to make sure our government commits to do what is right at this point in history, what the nation is urging them to do.
"We must Insulate Britain in order to Just Stop Oil because Enough is Enough, so let's Don’t Pay UK."
An Insulate Britain spokesperson said they fear "economic and social collapse" without a resolution to both the cost of living and climate crises.
Protesters have carried out several demonstrations in Hertfordshire since September 13, 2021.
Among them was a campaign at junction 23 of the M25 (A1, South Mimms) and at junction 4 of the A1(M) (A414, Hatfield) in September last year.
On Friday, September 17, campaigners sat in the road at M11 junction 8 (A120, Bishop's Stortford and Stansted Airport) as part of their housing insulation protest.
Just Stop Oil campaigners - who want to see an end to new oil developments and extraction - affixed a banner to gubbins inside the Buncefield Oil Depot, Hemel Hempstead in spring 2022.
The October action will target Westminster. Protesters have previously blocked parts of London's road infrastructure in Parliament Square, Vauxhall Bridge and Lambeth Bridge - not far from the Palace of Westminster - and The Courtauld Gallery in the City of Westminster.
The letter was sent just days after Liz Truss promised members of parliament that no household energy bill will exceed £2,500 per year over the next two years in a House of Commons debate on September 8.
She said: "This government is moving immediately to introduce a new energy price guarantee that will give people certainty on energy bills, it will curb inflation and boost growth.
"This guarantee, which includes a temporary suspension of green levies, means that from October 1 a typical household will pay no more than £2,500 per year for each of the next two years while we get the energy market back on track."
Her intervention followed a calculation by Ofgem, the energy regulator, that the energy price cap should rise to £3,549 per household per year from October.
Energy firms have seen their profits leap by billions of pounds. In the second quarter of this year (April to June), Shell reported profits of nearly £10 billion while BP's profit trebled to £6.9bn - up from £2.3bn the same quarter one year ago.
At the same time, the East of England experienced the warmest summer on record in 2022.
The records date back to 1884, and according to observers at Weatherquest, this year's summer average temperature stood at 18.3C - higher than the 18.0C recorded in 2018, 17.9C in 2003 and 17.8C in 1976.
The government's chief scientific advisor warned MPs that weather extremes are linked to climate change at an All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group briefing on July 11.
Sir Patrick Vallance said: "We’ve had two and a half years of a global crisis in the form of a pandemic.
"We face 50 years of really big problems relating to climate, and the nature of that threat to countries around the world means that this has to be one of the things that has to be on every government’s agenda.
"There is no way we can pretend it isn’t happening."