Protesters block M25 for the third time this week as police make swift arrests

Dozens of climate change protesters have been arrested after they blocked the M25 for the third time this week.

Essex Police, Surrey Police and Kent Police all confirmed they had responded to incidents on Friday morning, but all the affected roads have now reopened.

Footage from Essex showed officers have taken a tougher stance and swiftly made arrests.

Insulate Britain said 79 "newly released campaigners" attempted to block the London orbital motorway, hours after leaving police custody for similar protests on Wednesday.

Essex Police managed to stop 12 out of 20 protesters making it onto the carriageway, the group said.

The force confirmed 24 people were arrested, with officers able to "intervene and resolve the situation quickly, meaning the road was blocked for only several minutes" however, congestion lasted for approximately 45 minutes.

Superintendent Sam Smith said: "Incidents of this nature have the potential to cause significant disruption to road users, who may need to get to work, an appointment, or catch a flight.

"Our officers worked quickly to remove attempted protests this morning and made 24 arrests in a matter of minutes.

"The roads have now reopened and traffic is moving freely.

"I want to thank the drivers affected for their patience and understanding."

Blue paint was also poured onto the road in a bid to disrupt traffic further.

The M25 anticlockwise slip road at junction 9 was temporarily blocked, with two lanes of the motorway closed causing long tailbacks.

However, at 10.15am Surrey police reported both junction 1 of the M3 and junction 9 of the M25 had been cleared.

The force said 14 people were arrested on the M25.

Kent Police said 10 people were arrested where the B1273, in Swanley, and junction 3 of the M25 meet, but added "the road is now clear and traffic is moving".

One protester, named only as Harry, a solar engineer from Cornwall said: "Although I actively chose a career in the renewable energy sector, I feel like I need to do more to prepare this country for the oncoming effects of climate change. I don’t believe the government is doing enough. I’m taking part in this action because I want the government to move faster on reducing CO2 emissions."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a tweet: "This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and INCREASES pollution.

"I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads."

Insulate Britain caused huge queues of traffic this week, with tens of thousands of drivers delayed after they blocked the roads on Monday and Wednesday during rush hour.

It comes hours after they were branded "selfish" and "dangerous" by the home secretary for causing chaos on the UK’s busiest motorway.

On Monday, police forces arrested 78 people, with a further 71 arrested on Wednesday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for legitimate groups to make their voices heard.

"But this government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.

"The guerrilla tactics used by Insulate Britain detract from their cause and I know the public will agree that the scenes on the M25 this week were completely unacceptable.

"The police have our full support. They must uphold the law and take decisive action. This kind of disruption is dangerous and takes police away from communities where they are needed most.

"That’s exactly why we are giving police the powers to better manage such highly disruptive demonstrations in future.

"The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will introduce a new offence of public nuisance, ensuring there are appropriate sentences for the harm caused."

On Wednesday, some protesters went as far as gluing themselves to the road to prevent police from being able to remove them.

Earlier this week, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: "These actions are not only highly disruptive to those going to work and transporting vital goods, but are putting lives at risk on a busy motorway.

"Not to mention the resulting traffic delays will only add to vehicle emissions."

Edmund King, president of motoring insurance group AA, added that a thermal insulation engineer was prevented from going to work after being stuck in the traffic queue during Wednesday’s blockade.

He said: "Whilst most people understand the need to take action on climate change, these motorway blockade tactics are just backfiring as they are alienating the working public stuck in this chaos and subsequently pumping out more emissions."

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