Prison for home insulation activists

| 14th December 2021 |

Tim Speers, Roman Paluch, Emma Smart, Ben Taylor, James Thomas, (front row left to right) Louis McKechnie, Ana Heyatawin and Oliver Rock, who along with Dr Ben Buse were jailed at the High Court for breaching an injunction designed to prevent Insulate Britain's road blockades. 

Insulate Britain are prisoners of conscience raising public awareness of immediate action required to combat climate crisis

The next three to four years will determine the future of humanity, so this is no time for half-hearted measures.

Protesters from all walks of life are expressing an interest in joining the campaign group Insulate Britain following its civil resistance campaign when numerous motorways and major roads were blocked - mainly in London but also in Dover, Birmingham and Manchester.

Climate crisis meetings up and down the country inspired by the relatively new activist group are drawing in people prepared to cross the line and join campaigns of material disruption, with large meetings in Bristol, Manchester, Brighton, Northampton and Hastings.

Billy, 25, a post graduate student at a Brighton meeting, said: “I’ve heard about the campaign, obviously, and came to the meeting to find out how I can get involved – this is something we can win. So far, we have won nothing. We have had no big win, my generation.”


The older generation of Insulate Britain consisting mainly of people in their 40s to 60s now have nine of their mainly younger constituent in jail for contempt of court after breaking injunctions to block roads in September and October this year.

Emma Smart, 44,  a conservationist from Weymouth, and Ben Buse, 36, a university lecturer from Bristol, staged a hunger strike to raise public awareness of the urgent action required now on the climate crisis.

Ms Smart told The Ecologist: “I ended my hunger strike after 26 days, one day for every failed COP meeting since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed.

"I remain proud of my actions with Insulate Britain and will continue to do all that I can to pressure our government to live up to its duty to protect the people from climate collapse.”

“I welcome the approach from my MP, Sir Richard Drax and look forward to meeting him to discuss Insulate Britain’s demands. I hope that he is prepared to listen and also to convey to the government the absolute gravity of our situation.


She added: "The next three to four years will determine the future of humanity, so this is no time for half-hearted measures. Boris needs to get on with the job.”

Nine more Insulate Britain injunction-breakers face prison at their High Court appearance today, 14 December 2021. The reasoning behind why these climate protesters are in prison is twofold: on the one hand they want to be, on the other the UK Government want them to be - but with the caveat of it being with a minimum of fuss and publicity.

The next three to four years will determine the future of humanity, so this is no time for half-hearted measures.

Hence by trying them under civil law and use of injunctions the government obviates a jury trial whereby the protesters would be tried under criminal law for highway obstruction or conspiracy to cause public nuisance – charges which more than 120 other IB campaigners still face.

High Court civil cases are judged by a senior judge, in this case Dame Victoria Sharp who sentenced the IB campaigners now known as the Highway 9 to between two and six months at the November 17 court case.

Ms Smart went on immediate hunger strike following her sentencing. Hunger strikes can cause irreparable damage to the body at the 20 day stage and Emma was in the medical wing at HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Middlesex.

She was boosted by James Brown's prison release on bail in the latter stages of her fast. He  superglued himself to the roof of a British Airways jet at London City Airport in October 2019 highlighting aviation’s deleterious effects on the climate.

Dr Ben Buse went on hunger strike on 25 November following the decision by the prison authorities to move him and fellow prisoners to different wings at HMP Thameside. He described this as “an attempt to break us and break our resolve to continue protesting until the government addresses the climate crisis.”

This Author     

Jan Goodey is an environmental journalist who contributes regularly to the Resurgence & The Ecologist.

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