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Frome resident arrested five times as part of Insulate Britain protests

A LOCAL woman, who is a member of the environmental protest group Insulate Britain and has been arrested five times, has explained what she hoped to achieve as part of the group whose actions blocked large sections of the UK’s busiest motorway, the M25. The protest group’s actions were condemned by ministers, police, angry motorists and business owners.  

The protesters are drawing public attention to the need for climate change action ahead of the UN Cop26 climate conference, which will be held in Glasgow later this year. 

Pippa Clarke lives in Frome and was arrested five times as a result of holding up traffic on the M25 and the port of Dover. Pippa says she does not speak on behalf of the group itself, but of her experiences within the group and the actions they took. 

When asked if going down the route of blocking traffic was the best way to get a positive reaction from the government, Pippa said, “Petitions, protests, marches – even writing to MPs has had little effect. It hasn’t inspired the government to act at all, so causing non-violent disruption seems the only way to get the government’s attention. It was made clear that until they listen to our demands, we will keep going. 

“The government is unlikely to turn round and thank us, but they could say it was on their agenda and they’ll bring it to the top – it needs to be negotiated obviously, but if they can provide a reasonable statement that we can agree with, then the group will get off the roads.”  

Insulate Britain is calling on the government to fully fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025 and to provide a plan, as well as fully fund and take responsibility for the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit of all homes in Britain by 2030. 

15% of total emissions are created through heating homes in the country. Insulate Britain say that proper and full insulation of homes would decrease current fuel poverty (the ability to heat a home) and would be a good start to reaching the UK’s target of reducing emissions by 78% by 2035. 

Insulate Britain claim that this project will create tens of thousands of jobs as refits will be needed up and down the country. 

Insulate Britain was accused of targeting the wrong people through their actions, but Pippa said, “The motorists weren’t getting targeted, yes it caused some disruption to their day but given that there are frequent disruptions on all the motorways every day, it’s not so different. Police were called by us before we even went on the road, so they were there within ten minutes of us being there apart from Dover (that was due to a police mistake however and the process took about an hour). I can only speak for the actions I was a part of. It usually happened that police would close the road, remove us and then the traffic was gone – ten to 15 minutes max.  

Pippa wanted to make it clear that the two groups Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain are separate entities. She said, “XR have not come up with this idea, it’s a completely new group and people were recruited, if you like, through talks and zoom meetings – not Facebook.”  

Pippa is a veteran campaigner of social issues, having taken part in previous protests against the Iraq war and Poll Tax. She said that she joined Insulate Britain because of concerns that the climate change issue was not being dealt with properly by those in power.  

She said, “We’re all aware there’s a climate crisis, which if not addressed will undoubtedly cause food shortages, civil unrest, wildfires, flooding, drought – it’s a depressing picture. But there are actions that can be taken both by individuals and by governments – they say all the right words, make all the right sounds, but they’re not actually doing anything.  

“The government is planning to open coal mines, they’re not really stopping the fossil fuels, they want to build High Speed 2 (HS2), which is a huge environmental catastrophe in itself. Four million households will struggle to heat their homes this winter and the recent cut to universal credit can only mean more people will be pushed into further fuel poverty. This all seems to be the complete reverse of what they’re saying publicly. I can only speak for myself, but I’m acting out of desperation and frustration. One of the things the government can do is insulate homes.”  

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