Eco-warriors vs drivers - where do you stand?

Should the M25 be a battleground in the war on CO2? Two prominent campaigners share their view

Edmund King and Natalie Bennett

Here at Auto Express we know plenty of drivers feel strongly about the environment, and many may even sympathise with some of the views expressed by campaign groups such as Extinction Rebellion or Insulate Britain. But when protest spills over onto the M25 and other roads, the issues become a lot more divisive.
So is there a place for  ‘civil disobedience’ actions of the type that have proved so disruptive to commuters and businesses on the M25 motorway and elsewhere in recent days and months? We asked two prominent campaigners for their views - what do you think?

Natalie Bennett, Green Party peer and former leader:

“We are living in a climate emergency and so there is no more time for delaying tactics. We fully agree with the aims and objectives of protesters who are trying to force action to tackle climate change.

“The right to protest is a vital part of living in a functioning democracy. While we do not always agree with the actions of every protest, it is important and necessary for people to have the right to protest.

“The actions of groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers in recent years have helped to push climate change up the agenda and shown just how much support there is for taking climate action.

“We have great sympathy with those whose lives are disrupted by some of these protests, but time and again we have seen that non-violent direct action is often the only way left for people to drive change. The climate crisis will impact us all and politicians have already spent far too long failing to deliver what is needed. It is important they hear the demands for change now.”

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association:

“Various blockades of the M25 by ‘Insulate Britain’ caused hours of disruption. Most people understand the need to act on climate change, but these tactics backfire as they alienate the working public stuck in this chaos, compromise safety and create more pollution.

“It also leads to rat running on less suitable rural and village roads potentially also leading to more crashes and congestion.

 “This action is irresponsible and illegal. It takes up police time when there are more urgent activities to deal with in the community rather than spending hours removing people glued to the road. There are also safety concerns as people could be killed blocking the roads, or indeed collisions caused due to stopped traffic. Ambulances were delayed. Essential deliveries were stranded, people missed hospital and business appointments, and even funerals, because of these futile protests.

“In a democracy we have the right to air our views and protest in a responsible manner. It is not democratic, responsible, or good for the environment, to stop the nation going about its legitimate business.

“There was also the sad irony of thermal insulation engineers trying to insulate Britain getting stuck in the jams and prevented from insulating Britain by Insulate Britain. You couldn’t make it up.”

Do you agree with the M25 protests? Let us know in the comments below...

Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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