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Serious disruption likely as roads targeted in fuel duty protest

Traffic jams are expected amid protest over rising fuel prices (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Traffic jams are expected amid protest over rising fuel prices (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Police have warned of “serious disruption throughout the day” as protesters target motorways in a demonstration over high fuel prices.

Roads in various parts of the country could be subject to traffic jams on Monday as protesters take action and call for a cut in fuel duty.

Protests will target mainly three-lane motorways and see slow-downs on two lanes, leaving the fast lane free, according to FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox.

A litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p (Joe Giddens/PA)
A litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p (Joe Giddens/PA)

While he said his organisation is not involved in the action, he is “fully supportive” of the demonstrations so long as they are conducted legally.

The protests are understood to be organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he will carefully consider calls for a “more substantial” fuel duty cut after the 5p per litre reduction implemented in March failed to halt price rises.

Figures from data firm Experian show the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p.

The Government said while it understands people are struggling with rising prices and have a right to protest, “people’s day-to-day lives should not be disrupted” and warned that traffic delays “will only add to fuel use”.

Organisers are expected to block the Prince of Wales Bridge crossing between England and Wales, while disruption is also possible in Essex and Gloucestershire.

Mr Cox told the PA news agency: “I totally support their protest because people have reached the end of their tethers at the moment.”

He said other countries had cut fuel duty by more than the UK and asked “why the hell are we not doing it here?”

Mr Cox called for a cut of at least 20p, and warned that protests will continue if not.

He said: “There is an appetite (for such protest). If the Government don’t actually deliver on this, I think there’s going to be some serious escalation of protests.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to announce a larger cut in fuel duty (Yui Mok/PA)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to announce a larger cut in fuel duty (Yui Mok/PA)

Gwent Police said protests are expected to take place on the road network between 7am and 7pm on Monday.

They said organisers had indicated an intention to block the Prince of Wales Bridge, with the protest starting on the M4 at Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and junction 20 of the M4 westbound.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said he would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

Bristol Airport advised travellers to allow extra time for their journeys.

In a tweet, the airport said: “Please note that there is a planned fuel protest to block the River Severn Bridge crossings this Monday July 4 from 8.30am.

“The protest will likely affect the M5, M4 and the two crossings to Wales. Please allow extra time if travelling to or from the airport.”

Essex Police Chief Inspector Anna Granger said her officers “are experienced at dealing with incidents which cause significant disruption”.

She said: “We will be monitoring the situation closely and have a policing operation in place to limit disruption.”

Gloucestershire Police said protests are likely to affect the A48, causing travel disruption in the Gloucester and Forest of Dean areas.

A Government 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.”