Fuel Protests: Everything You Need To Know About The Motorway Delays

Thirteen people have been arrested over the demonstrations so far.
"No more petrol piss take" – a fuel protester on July 4
"No more petrol piss take" – a fuel protester on July 4
Martin Pope via Getty Images

Protesters are blocking major motorways this Monday across the UK in a bid to push back against high fuel prices.

The demonstrations are causing delays through “go-slow action”, where protesters have organised convoys to drive at 30mph while taking up two lanes on the motorway.

It means vehicles can only travel at a normal speed in the “fast” outside lane, subsequently causing significant gridlock up and down UK roads.

The activists organised the demonstration together through a Facebook event called “Stand Up to Fuel Prices”, which had more than 57,000 responses.

It calls for the general public to block the roads with whatever vehicles they have “until there is change from the government” in fuel prices.

Twelve people were arrested after a protest on the M4, which led to the closure of the Prince of Wales Bridge between England and Wales, while another person was arrested near the A38.

Where are the protests?

  • A64 near York

  • A92 in Scotland

  • A12 in Essex

  • M180 in Lincolnshire

  • A38

  • M32

  • M5 in Devon

  • M4 and Prince of Wales Bridge

Protesters have been given a legal notice from police to stop them blocking the bridge over the River Severn by driving slowly, to prevent it impacting “emergency and critical services”.

Police escort vehicles across the Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4.
Police escort vehicles across the Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4.
Rod Minchin - PA Images via Getty Images

Why are people protesting?

Fuel prices in the UK are reaching record highs, which affects industries across the country.

According to the RAC’s Fuel Watch, unleaded now costs 191.43p per litre, super unleaded costs 203.7p per litre and diesel costs 199.05p per litre.

This all contributes to the cost of living crisis, which is already squeezing households up and down Britain.

The fuel prices have been increasing steadily over the six months, even though weekly wholesale costs have fallen for the last five weeks.

This could be because forecourts are not passing on the reduction in prices.

“It is an outrage, plain and simple, that the fuel trade could be slashing petrol prices as the nation heads towards the holiday season, but isn’t,” Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesman, said, according to Sky News.

The Treasury announced in March that it would cut fuel duty by 5p per litre, but prices have not stopped climbing since.

However, Petrol Retailers’ Association, which represents the UK’s independent forecourts, claims the rising costs come down to international events – likely linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and international currency conversion which is not currently in favour of the pound.

Founder of campaign group FairFuelUK, Howard Cox, said his organisation was not involved in the protests, but warned that the UK needs to follow other countries who have cut more fuel duty and reduce it by at least 20p – or there could be a “serious escalation of protests”.

Pump price of unleaded petrol
Pump price of unleaded petrol
PA GraphicsPress Association Images

What does the government say?

No.10 has simply slapped down the disruptive protests.

A spokesperson said: “While we respect the right to protest, people’s day-to-day lives should not be disrupted, especially on busy motorways where lives are put at risk and resulting traffic delays will only add to fuel use.

“The new Public Order Bill will make it a criminal offence to glue yourself to a dangerous motorway, which sees police spending hours trying to safely remove people.”

This controversial new legislation is supposed to crack down on what the government describes as “guerrilla protests”. It is a wrap-up of measures which were previously put forward under the now-passed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill but had to be scrapped after being knocked back by the House of Lords.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he is considering calls for a “more substantial” fuel duty tax after the 5p per litre cut from March had little impact.

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