Who are Insulate Britain?

If you have been watching the news or following social media over the past few weeks, you would have heard of a group of protesters blocking the M25, causing havoc for drivers and businesses across the country. But who are they? And why do they keep disrupting the lives of thousands of people?

Ask you can see from the Tweet below, the protestors have moved their attention to London today;

But with their actions causing further division rather than instigating positive change, what are they actually trying to achieve? If it just to raise awareness of climate change – then the vast majority of people agree that something needs to drastically change. However, blocking roads is clearly causing nothing but harm to everyday working people’s lives.

What is Insulate Britain hoping to achieve?

A series of protests by the group are currently taking place across the country, but most notably on the M25, A1(M), M3 and M11 motorways in England. The first protest took place last month on September 13 2021, where protestors blocked five junctions of the M25. On September 24, the group then focused on the Port of Dover.

The Insulate Britain members are a part of the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, who are demanding that Boris Johnson and the government make immediate plans to insulate all social housing in Britain by 2025. They also hope to make the government retrofit all homes with insulation by 2030.

Their actions have drawn widespread anger and condemnation from the public and senior government officials including Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Transport Secretary Grant Chapps. As seen on multiple videos on social media in recent weeks, they have been responsible for emergency patients and their loved ones not getting to hospitals, while many have been late to work; or added to the ongoing disruption in UK supply chains.

Despite the negative impact of their protests, the group’s demands come from a widely accepted belief from experts that believe that insulating homes is a top priority in the fight against climate change.

Dozens of protestors have been arrested (some of them multiple times) for criminal damage, causing danger to road users and causing a public nuisance. Some even had to be removed from the road after glueing themselves to it.

The protestors have received support from the Green Party and some notable academics.

Does the public support them?

Norstat, Europe’s largest independent data collection company, has been polling the British public and has gathered some interesting opinions on protests surrounding climate change, which have taken centre stage in recent months.

After various Extinction Rebellion protests disrupting central London in July and August of this year, there has also been disruption on the M25 by a group known as ‘Insulate Britain.’ This group blocked several M25 junctions and have garnered lots of media attention as a result.

Norstat’s poll generated mixed public opinions on the climate change activists’ actions:

  • Almost half (49%) of those who were asked whether they were supportive of Extinction Rebellion’s protests in London said that they were either ‘completely unsupportive’ or they ‘did not know what the protests were ’
  • The most positive responses came fromsouthern pollers – 25% of London and the south-east either ‘completely support’ or ‘are somewhat supportive’ of the protests compared to their Midland and Northern counterparts, both polling 17% in the same categories.
  • When asked whether they would consider joiningin on a protest, 67% of Brits said they either ‘would not join’ or that they ‘did not know enough to join’

Rob Agnew, Managing Director at Norstat UK commented on the findings: “What we see here is a rejection from the British public over how Extinction Rebellion carry out their direct action. Their disruptive protests symbolise the general opinion that many of their protests do not impact those with the power to make changes, but people attempting to get on with their daily lives. As ‘Insulate Britain’ gathers press momentum, these findings are extremely telling in showcasing a disappearing patience from the British public to support groups that only seem to disrupt and not look to provide a more informative, educational style of protest over climate change.”

Injunction

Since the group received an injunction on September 22, protestors are unable to ’cause damage to the surface of or to any apparatus on or around the M25 including but not limited to painting, damaging by fire, or affixing any item or structure thereto’. Ignoring this or blatantly disregarding it could result in an unlimited fine or a two-year sentence.

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