Environmental protesters have gone ahead with action to disrupt sections of England’s busiest motorway despite a major Metropolitan Police operation to foil their plans.

M25 disruption: Pictures show Just Stop Oil disruption on M25 despite police operation

Twenty-three people have been arrested after Just Stop Oil protesters climbed gantries on the M25 despite a major Metropolitan Police operation to foil their plans.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist branded the demonstrations as “criminality” with the intention of disrupting thousands of people’s lives.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, he said: “This isn’t protest, this is criminality where people are taking extremely hazardous steps disrupting the M25.

“This action is grossly disproportionate to any legitimate aim that this group may have. This is criminality and we’ll treat it as such.”

The Metropolitan Police arrested seven people before Monday’s protest on suspicion of “conspiracy to intentionally or recklessly cause public nuisance”, a new offence under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“We suspected that the intent of the individuals involved was completely disproportionate to any legitimate right to protest,” Mr Twist said.

But the protest went ahead, with forces including Kent, Essex, Surrey and Hertfordshire facing demonstrators in 13 locations.

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