Police remove and arrest Dartford bridge protesters

time:2023-06-10 02:41:19source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:news

Police have arrested two men after removing them from the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge where they staged a two-day protest disrupting traffic on the M25.

Just Stop Oil supporters scaled the bridge's masts at the Dartford Crossing in the early hours of Monday.

The activists said the action was in protest against new government oil and gas licences.

Essex Police said the two men had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.

Earlier, the force brought a raised platform to the scene to "allow specially trained officers to work at great height".

National Highways said there had been delays of up to 60 minutes for southbound traffic approaching the crossing on the M25, which was then diverted through the Dartford Tunnel. which is normally for northbound traffic only.

The 1.7mile (2.8km) bridge usually takes traffic southbound over the River Thames on the A282, which connects the M25 London orbital motorway from Essex to Kent.

National Highways said the bridge was set to reopen after inspections "to ensure no damage was caused during the protest" were carried out.

Sean Martell from National Highways said: "We are working to get the bridge reopen as soon as it is safe to do so."

Police said the climate change protesters were about 430ft (130m) above the water and 180ft (55m) above the road surface.

Ch Supt Anslow told BBC Essex that officers tried to negotiate with the protesters on Monday using loudhailers, but that "communication was very difficult because of the wind and the distance".

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson had said the two men would remain on the masts "until they're brought down".

One of them, Morgan Trowland, who was described as a 39-year-old bridge design engineer from London, said on Twitter on Tuesday morning that he was cold but had "survived the night".

"We demand that the government stops all new licensing and consent for oil and gas extractions," he told BBC Radio Kent.

"We're not going to get out of this emergency unless we take acts of civil resistance."

Mr Trowland added: "We're disrupting the economy and the government can't tolerate the country being disrupted.

"We're going to occupy this for as long as we can."

He said the police were in control of the bridge and the group had not blocked any roads.

Harry Rogers, from Cocking, West Sussex, told the BBC that he was one hour and 40 minutes late for his cousin's funeral because of the closure.

He said he had managed to have a soft drink at the wake, held at a pub in Upminster, east London, before driving back home.

Karina Poole, from Thurrock, Essex, said she was an hour late for work because she had had to walk the 30-minute journey to her local railway station.

"These demonstrators have put my personal safety at risk," she said. "Not all of us can afford to use taxis, especially in today's economic climate."

Several Isthmian League football fixtures have been postponed with club websites citing "ongoing issues" for the teams and fans travelling from Essex to Kent and Sussex.

They included Lewes v Aveley, Herne Bay v Billericay and Bognor Regis Town v Bowers & Pitsea.

In a statement the government said: "While we respect the right to protest, people's day-to-day lives should not be disrupted, and criminal activity will not be tolerated.

"We remain fully committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and the UK is forging ahead of many other countries on net zero - with 40% of our power now coming from cleaner and cheaper renewable sources."

A video has appeared on social media platforms showing fireworks being fired in the direction of the protesters.

A statement from Kent Police said: "Kent Police is aware of a video circulating online which appears to show fireworks being set off in Greenhithe near to the QEII bridge, Dartford.

"Officers are making inquiries to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the video and to identify any offences which may have been committed."

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police arrested 26 Just Stop Oil activists blocking Talgarth Road near Barons Court Tube station in central London on Tuesday morning.

The activists sat down on the road with banners at 07:30 and glued themselves to the Tarmac and each other.

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