A High Court injunction has been granted which will impose new penalties on Just Stop Oil activists for demonstrating on the country’s busiest motorway until November next year.
National Highways said it had secured the civil order to “prevent illegal protests” on the M25, after a series of actions by the environmental group caused significant traffic disruption.
The ban, which was granted on Monday before Justice Soole, will remain in place until just before midnight on November 15, 2023.
It means that anyone who enters, remains on or attaches to an object or to any structure on the M25 can have proceedings brought against them for contempt of court.
They can face imprisonment, an unlimited fine, confiscation of assets or a combination of these penalties.
Some 65 people who were arrested by police as a result of their involvement in Just Stop Oil protests on the M25 gates are specifically named in the injunction.
The ban was secured in addition to a court order obtained by National Highways earlier this year targeting protesters including those from Insulate Britain.
It comes as Just Stop Oil caused traffic disruption in the capital on Monday as protesters walked slowly along Shepherd’s Bush Green, west London at around 8am and also blocked traffic in the Aldwych in central London.
Scotland Yard said on Sunday that activists from the environmental group were planning two weeks of disruption in London before Christmas.
In a statement on Sunday, Just Stop Oil responded to reports of a crackdown on its operations. “They say that repeating the same actions over and over and expecting a different result each time is a sign of insanity,” they said.
“But we already know the government is misguided and out of touch. Blindly pursuing new fossil fuel extraction when the IEA [International Energy Agency]The UN and 99% of the world’s scientists have said that doing so would lead to the collapse of human civilization is, in the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “moral and economic madness”.
The transport secretary, Mark Harper, said on Monday: “The reckless, selfish actions of a small group of protesters have stopped children from getting to school, people from getting to work and emergency workers from their critical work.”
He added: “Freedom of expression and lawful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but putting people’s safety and livelihoods at risk due to selfish and illegal protest activity will not be tolerated.”
Sean Martell, National Highways’ South East Head of Service Delivery, said: “Millions of people rely on the strategic road network every day and they have a right to expect it to work as it should.
“Climbing structures such as gantries is extremely dangerous – both for the protesters themselves and for motorists – and we are committed to doing everything we can to try and prevent a small minority causing disruption to the network.”
Meanwhile, a group of five Just Stop Oil activists received suspended prison sentences for breaching an injunction by blocking access to a petrol station.
Ruth Cook, 70, Joy Corrigan, 71, Dr Patrick Hart, 36, Stephen Jarvis, 66, and George Oakenfold, 78, all admitted breaching the terms of a civil order made to Thurrock Council and Essex County Council.