The right to stage demonstrations in Britain may be under threat, after climate change activists were told they must “pay to protest”.

The Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) were told that they must fork out for a private firm to oversee a protest march in London next month that could attract up to 20,000 people.

In previous years the Metropolitan police facilitated the temporary closure of roads along agreed routes.

A Met spokesman told the Guardian: “In previous years the MPS may have undertaken this role but following a review of what services we provide, we have stopped doing this.”

A large protest that will block off roads requires a temporary traffic regulation order, which authorities insist is needed to ensure public safety and ease traffic congestion.

Westminster council have told organisers that it will only issue an order when it is receives a detailed traffic plan from organisers, including information on who will be stewarding the event.

Claire James told the Guardian: “The campaign has organised several marches over the past decade and we’ve always worked with the police and other agencies to ensure they are safe and successful.

“Effectively what this means is we have to pay to protest.”

Organisers estimate that they will have to employ scores of stewards at £120 a shift to ensure the protest can go ahead.

This shift in policy by the Met could affect many protests held in the capital, especially those held by smaller organisations.

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