COP26: Sections of M8 motorway could shut during climate summit amid VIP security concerns for Queen and Joe Biden

Sections of the M8 motorway could be shut to commuters during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next month, amid security concerns over VIPs being caught in slow-moving traffic.

It comes as authorities confirmed United States president Joe Biden and his entourage will be staying in Edinburgh for the conference along with the Queen.

It is understood Pope Francis, who will not lead the Vatican delegation, may still visit Scotland.

Transport sources said drivers faced delays of up to 30 minutes on the M8 in Glasgow on November 1 and 2 if world leaders and their international delegations travelled via the motorway to reach the summit.

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"This may include around roadworks at the Woodside viaduct, between junctions 16 and 17, where the four lanes are reduced to two,” sources told the Scotsman.

“There are security concerns about having to move VIPs through slow-moving traffic.”

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Police Scotland is understood to have gathered specific intelligence about planned protests near junction 19 at Anderston, where VIPs arriving by car will be escorted off the motorway and onto the Clydeside Expressway, which will be reserved solely for COP26 traffic during the summit.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his team of negotiators will travel to Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) from Edinburgh, where the Queen and Pope Francis are also planning to stay.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "Delivering such a complex event as COP26 means that some security road closures and restrictions may be needed in other areas of the country to facilitate the safety and security of world leaders, heads of state, delegates and local residents.

“We will work with partners to minimise local disruption and communicate in advance any road closures or diversions that are put in place, to allow for people to forward plan their own journeys."

More than 100 heads of state are expected to attend the conference, which will run from October 31 to November 12, along with representatives from around 200 countries.

Mr Biden and his team of negotiators will travel to Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) from Edinburgh, where the Queen and Pope Francis are also planning to stay.

The Queen, The Pope and US President Joe Biden will all stay in Edinburgh during the Glasgow-based conference, which could result in the closure of the M8 motorway.

While the Queen is expected to use her official residence at Holyrood Palace during the summit, details of where Mr Biden and the Pope will stay have not been made public.

Edinburgh City Council officials urged residents to avoid travelling at peak times for the duration of COP26, citing possible disruption caused by world leaders’ security requirements.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “We’ve been working closely with key partners including the UK and Scottish governments, Police Scotland, local transport providers and other partners for more than a year-and-a-half to carefully prepare for the COP26 conference.

More than 10,000 UK officers are expected to arrive in Glasgow in the days leading up to COP26, and around 2,500 Scottish officers are receiving extra training in how to manage large protests.

“While the event is being hosted Glasgow, we’re expecting it to be busy right across the Central Belt, including here in Edinburgh.

“We’ll shortly be launching a multi-channel communications campaign encouraging people to plan ahead, consider how and if they need to travel and to avoid peak times if possible.”

He added: “The campaign will aim to raise awareness of COP26 and what it represents, help to keep Edinburgh moving and open for business, while amplifying and reinforcing the national travel campaign launched by the Scottish Government earlier this week.”

Council depute Leader Cammy Day said: “In the run up to and during the conference, we’ll work with partners to share the most up-to-date travel and other information across a number of channels, including media, social media and our new website www.netzeroedinburgh.org.

“This is a landmark event for the country and an opportunity for us all to reflect on our own impact on the world around us.

“As well as planning any journeys ahead, by leaving the car at home and choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport instead, we can each do our bit to support the aims of COP26, however small.”

Transport sources said that drivers faced delays of up to 30 minutes on the M8 in Glasgow on November 1 and 2 if world leaders and their international delegations travelled via the motorway to reach the summit.

Fresh details of security arrangements in place around the SEC in Glasgow follow the re-launch of Project Servator, a long-running Police Scotland anti-crime and anti-terror scheme, that will see front-line officers supported by specialist resources, including police dogs and horses, armed units, CCTV operators and security staff.

More than 10,000 UK officers are expected to arrive in Glasgow in the days leading up to COP26. Around 2,500 Scottish officers are receiving extra training in how to manage large protests.

Chief Superintendent Mark Hargreaves, silver commander for the policing operation at the summit, said: “COP26 is one of the largest policing operations the UK has seen and we plan to utilise all resources at our disposal to support the delivery of a safe and secure event.

“Project Servator has proven to be an effective tactic in helping to disrupt criminal activity and keep people safe and has been deployed successfully at major events in the past, such as the Commonwealth Games and Edinburgh festivals.”

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