Location: London, United Kingdom
Parties involved: The Government of the United Kingdom, Metropolitan Police, Just Stop Oil protesters and supporters, commuters on the M25, businesses in the wider metropolitan London area.
Just Stop Oil protesters climbed onto the M25, which is Britain’s busiest motorway.
The activist group demands a halt on all new oil and gas licenses and contents.
The protests lead to major disruptions for commuters and supply chains.
Emergency services were unable to reach destinations.
Climate protests are intensifying.
On Monday 07/11/2022 at 07.30 local time Just Stop Oil protesters climbed onto Britain’s busiest motorway. The M25, which encircles around most of Greater London, was subjected to protesters climbing onto overhead gantries, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, as part of their campaign to demand that the government halts all new oil and gas licenses and consents.
As a result of the protesters causing chaos during rush hour, the M25 motorway had to be closed in parts for more than a hour, causing massive tailbacks and subsequent gridlock.
Following the demonstrations on Monday, the Metropolitan police announced that they arrested 35 protesters in response to the disruption. They are suspected of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, and may potentially face up to ten years in prison.
Since the start of the Just Stop Oil protests on 01/04/2022, police have arrested nearly 2.000 supporters of the protest group. Five of them are currently serving time in prison.
Matt Twist, who is the current Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, branded the demonstrations as “criminality” with the intention of disrupting thousands of people’s lives.
On 08/11/2022, protesters from Just Stop Oil blocked the M25 for the second day running, with rush hour traffic brought to a standstill. In similar fashion to yesterday’s disruptions, several junctions were blocked due to protesters climbing onto overhead gantries, causing police to halt traffic.
Police warned commuters to find alternative routes, while traffic was being stopped in both directions.
Just Stop Oil made a public statement regarding the demonstration: “Our supporters will be returning - today, tomorrow and the next day - and the next day after that - and every day until our demand is met: no new oil and gas in the UK.".
Analysis and implications:
The M25, otherwise known as the London “Ring Road”, is a major road surrounding most of Greater London. The 117-mile motorway is one of the most important roads in the United Kingdom as well as one of the busiest. A protest on this motorway will affect thousands of commuters going to work, as well as supply chains being disrupted or not meeting their scheduled times. This may result in massive economic turmoil. Just Stop Oil protests and demonstrations will affect many businesses who operate in the United Kingdom.
Due to the disruptions, traffic came to a complete standstill the past two days. This also means that emergency services like ambulances can not get to their destinations, whether this is a hospital or the location of an incident. The possibility of someone passing away in an ambulance, or at the scene of an incident due to traffic delays is very much possible. A similar incident like this has happened on 29/10/2022, when Just Stop Oil protesters caused a massive congestion on and near the Dartford Bridge. Two women got into a crash, but due to the high levels of traffic being piled up, the ambulance was delayed in arriving, leading to their deaths. A bystander trying to help the women while waiting for the ambulance to arrive made a statement to the press: “The protestors may not have intended to hurt anyone, but they’ve got blood on their hands now”.
The Metropolitan Police have announced that more than 10.000 officer shifts had been dedicated to policing the protests since the start of October. These are officers who would otherwise be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries. The need for police interference during the Just Stop Oil protests on the M25 results in less officers being available for the issues listed above.
If protest group Just Stop Oil decides to follow up their statement and create another disruption on the M25 like they announced, more economic disruption may follow and result in difficulties for society. There is also a high possibility of death being the result of congestion, as emergency health services can get stuck in traffic due to the protests. Just Stop Oil may also take inspiration from the recent invasion of the private jet section at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands on 05/11/2022. There is a chance of the protesters targeting airports in the United Kingdom as well. Additionally, protests may also get more extreme, as well as the behavior of commuters against the supporters of Just Stop Oil. If the demonstrations continue, there may be an increase in violence against the protesters from frustrated travelers who are affected by the M25 coming to a standstill.
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