Transport Secretary brands £4.3 million Insulate Britain policing bill ‘appalling’

Insulate Britain protests have cost taxpayers at least £4.3 million to police, it has been revealed, with Grant Shapps branding the bill “appalling”.

The Transport Secretary said the “selfish guerrilla tactics” used by the group had caused “misery” to thousands of motorists over the past year.

A spokeswoman for Insulate Britain defended the nature of the protests, claiming: "The only way we can get air time is by annoying enough ordinary people."

The Metropolitan Police said it had spent £4 million dealing with the climate group’s stunts between September 13 and November 20, in response to a Freedom of Information request by the PA news agency.

Some 6,651 of the force’s officers and staff, around 15 per cent, were involved, at a cost of £3.1 million.

A motorist remonstrates with protestors from Insulate Britain blocking a junction near the Dartford Crossing on October 1

Credit: Getty

A further £600,000 was spent on deploying vehicles, while the overtime cost was £300,000.

Four other forces provided figures totalling more than £300,000, but only included overtime bills, meaning the actual cost of policing protests in their areas was considerably higher.

In comparison, the cost of policing Extinction Rebellion protests throughout the summer was estimated at around £18 million, while two days of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020 cost around £1.4 million.

Anti-vaccine and anti-mask protests that took place last year also cost the taxpayer more than £1 million.

Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, wants the Government to insulate all UK homes by 2030 to cut carbon emissions.

It repeatedly blocked major roads between September and November, causing long traffic jams.

Activists often glued their hands to the road or each other to make it harder to remove them.

The group frequently targeted the M25, the UK’s busiest motorway, but also blocked roads in Manchester, Birmingham, London and the Port of Dover in Kent.

At one stage police officers were deployed at every junction of the M25 in an attempt to stop the group.

Mr Shapps said: "I am appalled at the amount of time and public money that’s been spent policing the selfish actions of Insulate Britain.

Fruitarian meal boxes for Insulate Britain

"Not only did their guerrilla tactics wreak havoc on our roads and inflict misery to thousands of motorists, but they diverted our emergency services away from vital work, costing the UK taxpayer millions in the process."

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, described the cost of policing the protests as "staggering".

Mr Marsh said responding to the demonstrations on 70mph motorways was "some of the most dangerous [work] my colleagues have had to do".

Police made hundreds of arrests, but many suspects returned to the roads just hours after being released from custody.

This led to Government-owned National Highways applying to the High Court for injunctions to ban protests on motorways and major A roads in England.

It cost just under £220,000 to obtain the first three injunctions with lawyers from National Highways, Government Legal Department (GLD) and DLA Piper (counsel engaged on behalf of GLD) advising on them.

Ten Insulate Britain supporters have been jailed for breaching the injunctions so far, with prison sentences ranging from two to six months.

Insulate Britain spokeswoman Tracey Mallaghan said the group would "much rather money was being spent on insulating homes and helping get people out of fuel poverty".

But she believes their actions have made home insulation "something people are talking about".

Asked why they blocked roads rather than conducted legal protests, she replied: "When we went to Parliament as Insulate Britain, that just didn’t get the same amount of (media) coverage.

She added: "I just can’t look my children in the face and say ‘this problem is too big, we’re not going to do anything’.

"Our Government has proved time and time again they’re not doing what is necessary for our children, for the future. So how can we stop?"

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