Who are Insulate Britain and why does everyone seem to hate them?

The direct action group have been causing more mayhem on the M25

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper
Food and Drink Editor, Time Out London
protestors on the street
Photograph: Insulate Britain

Insulate Britain have been making headlines over the past few weeks for their slightly annoying brand of climate-concerned direct action. But just who are they?

Well, much like how ‘Frasier’ is to ‘Cheers’, Insulate Britain is to Extinction Rebellion: your classic spin-off series. Though not officially affiliated to Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain was set up this August by people in the XR network and the group is specifically dedicated to campaigning for all of the UK’s homes to be fully insulated by 2030 in order to fight climate change. 

Yesterday morning (October 4) activists from the group staged three Central London roadblocks in central London, with 54 people blocking Hanger Lane, the Blackwall tunnel and Wandsworth Bridge. 38 arrests took place, not to mention a fair bit of bad vibes with the drivers who were stuck in the messy rush-hour protests, including a woman who was on her way to see her sick mother in hospital.

Insulate Britain released a statement following the arrests: 'We share the frustration of the people being delayed on the roads today. Does our government know what to do? The disorder on the roads today suggests otherwise. The Insulate Britain protests could end immediately, the government has a choice: make a meaningful statement that we can trust on insulating our homes, or make the decision to imprison those people who are more scared of the destruction of their country than they are of fines or a six-month sentence.'

This is the fourth week of action from Insulate Britain, who last month were holding daily motorway blockades followed by a protest outside the Home Office (September 22) after an injunction was passed to stop their activity on the M25. 

Police arrested 338 members of Insulate Britain during the motorway protests, which came under fire for blocking essential services. The blockades upset many people, especially after an air ambulance was called to a huge crash during the protests and saw a woman who had suffered a stroke stuck for six hours on the motorway as her son attempted to drive her to hospital. 

Of their civil disobedience, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: ‘Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk’. Activists are now being threatened with imprisonment if they disrupt the M25 again. 

‘Improving the quality of our homes is fundamental to achieve the British government’s climate-change, fuel-poverty and water-reduction targets,’ say Insulate Britain of their demands. ‘The UK has some 29 million homes and they are the oldest and least energy efficient housing stock in Europe. Every year vast amounts of precious energy is wasted in heating and, increasingly, cooling our buildings.’ 

Boris Johnson said to reporters of the group’s controversial tactics, ‘I don’t think these people do any favours to their cause. I think that what they do is detract from a very important moral mission that is widely shared by the people of this country.’

The tube is gonna get mega hot because of climate change... eek.

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