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EXTINCTION REBELLION (XR) protesters blocked the roads outside the Department for Transport (DfT) in London today, defying a city-wide ban on the group.
Activists locked their arms into tubes across the length of the road to call on the government to end funding for “destructive” projects such as the proposed high-speed rail route HS2 and airport expansion.
Police officers used electric chain cutters to remove the pipe before carrying the two protesters away for arrest.
XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook climbed on top of the entrance to the department building and hit the glass with a hammer, highlighting the number of trees threatened by HS2.
She said: “I do this in fierce love of the 108 ancient woodlands threatened by HS2, this climate crime of a project.
“Imagine the good we could do with HS2’s anticipated cost to rapidly accelerate towards our demands to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
“If the government is serious about plans to meet the net zero target they need to stop funding destructive projects such as HS2 and airport expansions.”
XR warned that the DfT has no transition plan in place to support the decarbonisation of the British economy, and “even worse,” are continuing to invest in fossil fuel-based projects.
It followed police action at XR’s main camp in Trafalgar Square the night before, when tents and infrastructure were removed in response to what Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor called the demonstration’s “continued breaches.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Labour “unequivocally supports the right to protest.”
Ms Abbott said: “The Extinction Rebellion protests have been largely peaceful and brought vital attention to the climate emergency — the most important issue facing the world.
“Any criminal acts should of course be handled by police, but an outright ban is wrong and completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.”
Human rights lawyer Tobias Garnett said XR warned police to withdraw their order, adding that if they don’t “we are going to bring an action in the High Court to compel them to do so and that’s a judicial review.”
He said: “It is a disproportionate infringement of our right to protest.”
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