Transport Secretary claims climate protest action ‘doesn’t make sense’

Grant Shapps says many environmental protesters are ‘anarchists’ who ‘just want to find a basis upon which to take extremist action’.

Amy Gibbons
Friday 28 January 2022 00:01
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It “doesn’t make sense” for climate activists to glue themselves to roads when campaigning for better home insulation, the Transport Secretary has said.

Grant Shapps said a lot of environmental protesters are “anarchists” who “just want to find a basis upon which to take extremist action”.

He said that it “doesn’t make sense” for people to glue themselves to roads when they are talking about insulating homes, or complain about HS2 when they are keen for others to travel in a more eco-friendly way.

Mr Shapps told the Centre Write magazine, from the centre-right think tank Bright Blue, that people should not even “try to understand” such tactics.

Asked about how to tackle disruption from climate activism, including the Insulate Britain protests, he said: “Unsurprisingly there’s a little loophole in the law that makes it difficult to directly prosecute people gluing themselves to the road. That is being fixed through the Police Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.”

He added: “We will always look to take action to protect hardworking Brits who want to get around. It’s inexcusable, as there are perfectly legitimate legal routes you can follow to protest or to make change happen, but gluing yourself to a road isn’t one of them, and doesn’t even really stack up because they’re actually going on about insulating houses.”

We will always look to take action to protect hardworking Brits who want to get around

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary

Mr Shapps was also asked about “so-called climate activists and environmentalists in the political sphere”, who have criticised the likes of HS2.

“A lot of these people are basically just anarchists who just want to find a basis upon which to take extremist action,” he said.

“This is why gluing yourself to a road when you’re actually talking about insulating homes, or complaining about HS2 when you claim to want to allow people to travel in a more environmentally friendly way, doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t try to understand it.

“If what you want to do is dig a tunnel and live in it to protest, the pretext is not what’s important to them. Clearly HS2 is a massive project, it’s the biggest building construction project in Europe. It’s also the most environmentally friendly large building project there has ever been.”

Last week, Downing Street defended measures to tackle protesters’ “guerrilla tactics” after peers gutted the legislation with a series of defeats for the Government

Home Secretary Priti Patel accused peers of siding with “vandals and thugs” after a string of defeats saw the House of Lords reject controversial measures designed to combat the tactics adopted by groups including Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.

No 10 said it would reflect on the mauling delivered by peers, but the Government could use its Commons majority to overturn the defeats inflicted in the unelected chamber.

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