The government has won an interim injunction to prevent protesters from occupying the A20 and strategic roads linked to the Port of Dover after climate protesters blocked access this week.
Kent Police arrested 39 people on Friday when activists connected to Insulate Britain - an offshoot of the climate action group Extinction Rebellion - blocked roads in and out of the cross-Channel ferry port at about 8.20am.
The demonstration created long queues of vehicles, with several drivers expressing anger with the activists.
Those who breach the injunction will be in contempt of court, putting them at risk of imprisonment and an unlimited fine, according to the government.
“We are absolutely committed to protecting the right to peaceful protest, but it is unacceptable that people cannot go about their day-to-day businesses and that businesses or critical supplies should be put on a knife's edge because of the reckless actions of a few protesters,” transport secretary Grant Shapps said.
“I commend the work of Kent Police and the Port of Dover authorities today to quickly resolve the issue and keep our critical supplies moving, and I will do everything to prevent these sort of guerrilla tactics from putting people's lives at risk and keeping our emergency services away from the communities that need them.”
The injunction request came after members of Insulate Britain blocked parts of the M25 five times in the past fortnight, causing disruption for motorists and passengers who were caught up in miles of traffic.
Speaking on Friday, Chief Superintendent Simon Thompson of Kent Police said: “The impact this disruption had on the local community and port-bound traffic is not lost on us and I would like to thank those adversely affected by it for their patience whilst we made the area safe again.
“Kent Police is working with the other forces, the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] and partner agencies to gather evidence and ensure there are consequences for those who break the law.”
One Insulate Britain protester, a 27-year-old called Stephanie, told the PA news agency that the group’s actions were necessary to prevent “chaos” from climate change in the future.
“I want to be home with my family spending time with them, but if we don't do this they aren't going to have a future,” she said.
“The government are not doing enough. On the current trajectory we are heading for chaos.”
The Port of Dover is Europe's busiest ferry port, used by an average of 6,200 road haulage vehicles every day in 2020, and handles 17 per cent of the UK's trade in goods.
Additional reporting by PA
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