High Court sentences nine Insulate Britain protestors to immediate custody after breaching road obstruction injunction
Nine activists from the environmental activist group Insulate Britain have been sentenced at the High Court to immediate custody after breaching a court-ordered injunction against the use of road blockades in protests. The temporary injunction awarded to National Highways in September 2021 barred activities that obstruct traffic and prevent access to 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads.
The protestors were given the following sentences:
- Ana Heyatawin, 58 – 3 months
- Ben Taylor, 27 – 6 months
- James Thomas, 47 – 4 months
- Benjamin Buse, 36 – 4 months
- Emma Smart, 44 – 4 months
- Louis McKechnie, 20 – 3 months
- Oliver Rock, 41 – 4 months
- Roman Paluch-Machnik, 28 – 4 months
- Tim Speers, 36 – 4 months
In their defence, the activists’ legal team stressed that the urgency of Insulate Britain’s cause – to combat the existential threat posed by dangerous and unsustainable energy emissions – outweighs the government’s campaign to curb the inconveniences of protests.
Commenting on the sentences, head of Criminal Defence at social-justice law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, Raj Chada said: “With these prison terms, the long and honourable tradition of civil disobedience is under attack again. Rather than leaving Courts to imprison those that raise the alarm, it should be the Government that acts to protect us against the climate crisis”
The activists’ civil disobedience was part of Insulate Britain’s campaign for the government to fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025. Over the last nine weeks, more than 150 people have taken part in protests on some of Britain’s busiest roads, including the M25. The group demands that the UK government promises to produce, within four months, a legally binding national plan taking responsibility for the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit.
As the climate crisis continues to develop, the insulation of homes will be a crucial step in preventing rising temperatures. Every year, vast amounts of valuable energy are expended on heating Britain’s buildings. If we are to stay below the 1.5C of heating, as the UK committed to in the Paris Agreement, emissions from heating and powering homes must be reduced by 78% in less than 15 years, and to zero by 2050.
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