The High Court has granted National Highways an interim injunction preventing protesters from occupying the A20 and strategic roads linked to the Port of Dover following another day of chaos and disruption.
It comes after Kent Police arrested 39 people when activists with Insulate Britain – an offshoot of climate change group Extinction Rebellion – sat down on roads in and out of the cross-Channel ferry port at about 8.20am on Friday.
The demonstration created long queues of vehicles, with several drivers remonstrating with the activists.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.”
Those who breach the injunction will be in contempt of court and at risk of imprisonment and an unlimited fine, the Government said.
The injunction request came after the group blocked parts of the M25 five times in the past fortnight, much to the ire of motorists and passengers caught up in miles of snaking traffic.
The ban comes into immediate effect.
Speaking on Friday after protesters caused major disruption, 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.”
A pair of activists sat on top of a tanker near the depot, draping the vehicle with an Insulate Britain banner.
One of the tanker protesters – 27-year-old Stephanie – told the PA news agency: “We do not want to be here.
“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.
“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 and handles 17% of the UK’s trade in goods.
It was used by an average of 6,200 road haulage vehicles every day last year.
The blockage came amid disruption to supplies across the UK due to a shortage of lorry drivers.
Responding to the interim injunction, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The British public are rightly furious that the behaviours of a selfish minority have been putting lives at risk and causing untold disruption on our roads and now at Dover.
“We will not tolerate the recklessness of these few activists and the police continue to have our full support in cracking down on their dangerous behaviour.
“The public and the police want officers back serving their communities and cutting crime, not dealing with people happy to put the safety and needs of others at risk.”