Six Insulate Britain activists to be released from prison

Group protested multiple times on busy A-roads and motorways

Furvah Shah
Thursday 13 January 2022 23:23
<p>One imprisoned protestor, 47-year-old architect James Thomas, described his time in prison as ‘uncomfortable, stressful and sometimes scary’ </p>

One imprisoned protestor, 47-year-old architect James Thomas, described his time in prison as ‘uncomfortable, stressful and sometimes scary’

Six Insulate Britain protestors are due be released from prison after serving sentences for blockading the M25 following a court injunction.

A doctor, architect and scientists are among those who will be released from prison on 14 January after serving half of their sentences handed to them by the High Court last year.

An injunction against protestors blockading Britain’s busy A-roads was ordered in October 2021 after multiple demonstrations by Insulate Britain, who are campaigning for the government to insulate all UK homes by 2030.

James Thomas, Emma Smart, Dr Diana Warner, Oliver Rock. Roman Paluch and Tim Speers are all set to be released from prison, meaning that all but one protestor - Ben Taylor, who is due to be released in one month - have now served their sentences.

The judge ordered that all the defendants should serve at least half of their sentences and awarded £45,000 costs to National Highways Ltd., who maintain England’s motorways and major A-roads.

Insulate Britain’s protests included glueing themselves to a road outside Parliament.

Speaking from prison, Insulate Britain member James Thomas - a 47-year-old architect from London, who is due to be released from HMP Thameside - said: “My time in prison has been uncomfortable, stressful and sometimes scary. But nobody I’ve met in here has been angry about our actions. Some inmates have been full of respect. All of them have ‘got it’, and understood why we did it.

“People might say, does this kind of civil disobedience actually work? And I would say, well quite often, it doesn’t work. But quite often it does work, and those instances are well known throughout history. And so, given where emissions are, and given where the clock is, and given where the politics isn’t, how could we not try this?

“I was sentenced to two months in prison. 8,500 people are sentenced to death every year through fuel poverty. One person every 15 minutes over winter. Any architect, economist and indeed politician knows that insulating homes is job number one to reduce emissions and tackle fuel poverty in this country.”

Also speaking from prison, Emma Smart, a 44-year-old ecologist from Dorset who is to be released from HMP Bronzefield, said: “Boris Johnson is either heartless or scared. Protecting people living in Britain against the death and destruction of the climate crisis is our government’s most basic of duties.

Jailed Insulate Britain campaigner, Emma Smart, is one of those due to be released tomorrow (Insulate Britain/PA)

“Further to this,” she added, “without a national retrofit and insulation programme the government are saying it is ok for thousands of people to die in their homes every year, and to continue to do so, particularly as the energy crisis we are in worsens. Adequate insulation should be a basic right.

“I was on hunger strike for 26 days whilst in prison. I would rather be doing my job, as a research scientist, progressing scientific analysis, as an ecologist. But instead, to enact the rapid change we need, this feels like the only option left. How long before the UK Government recognises their responsibility to keep people safe and warm?”

On the upcoming release of the protestors, a spokesperson for Architects Climate Action Network said: “The nine Insulate Britain campaigners released this week should never have been sent to jail and their imprisonment is a clear sign of the UK government’s eager push towards authoritarianism above taking any responsibility to tackle the climate crisis.

“The government has legally binding climate targets that must be met and there is no way to do that without insulating homes to dramatically reduce emissions.”

Insulate Britain’s goals are for the UK government to insulate all of Britain’s homes by 2030, as part of a transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy.

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