Climate change activists protest against high-speed UK train line

Action continues after police order end to all Extinction Rebellion protests in London

Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion climate action movement, speaks before smashing a window at the front of the building housing the government’s Department for Transport in central London. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/AFPvia Getty Images

Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion climate action movement, speaks before smashing a window at the front of the building housing the government’s Department for Transport in central London. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/AFPvia Getty Images

 

Climate change activists, including one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, targeted Britain’s transport ministry in central London on Tuesday to protest against a proposed high-speed rail project known as HS2.

Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of the group, climbed onto the top of the entrance of the transport ministry and put up a sign reading “HS2 is our climate emergency” above the revolving doors.

Another woman tried to glue herself to the ministry but was arrested.

“Everybody who is not paying attention is numb at the moment. We all use tactics to numb ourselves because this is scary,” the arrested woman said

She said the High Speed 2 project (HS2), aimed at improving links from London to central and northern England but is billions of pounds over budget and running late, would be a “scar across the belly of this land” and that it would destroy vital woodlands and wildlife habitats.

Police ordered a halt to all Extinction Rebellion protests in London on Monday after a week of civil disobedience, saying those who did not comply would be arrested.

Despite this the Extinction Rebellion protest action is continuing in London. The protesters’ latest actions came after the Metropolitan Police imposed conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, requiring any protest assembly in the capital to cease by 9pm on Monday.

The force said this was to “prevent serious disruption to the life of the community”.

On Monday evening, activists were cleared from Trafalgar Square, where many had lawfully congregated for the past week.

In response to the police action, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) statement said its “rebels” would take “a moment to pause and remember why we are here”.

It added: “Extinction Rebellion will let the Trafalgar Square site go tonight.

“The International Rebellion continues.”

On Twitter, XR’s London branch labelled the clearing of protesters from the square as “an outrage”.

It also tweeted: “Today, an unprecedented, political, decision has been taken to shut down peaceful protest calling out the government for inaction in the face of crisis.”

As of 5pm on Monday, police said there had been 1,445 arrests in connection with the eight days of XR protests in London.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said conditions were being imposed on protesters due to “continued breaches” of previous police orders and “ongoing serious disruption to the community”.

He added: “We have made significant progress in managing Extinction Rebellion’s activity at sites across central London over this past week.

“Officers have begun the process of clearing Trafalgar Square and getting things back to normal.”

Mr Taylor said officers had made more than 90 arrests on Monday as protesters targeted the City of London, the capital’s financial district.

He added: “The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion.”

On Monday night in Trafalgar Square, four people in a so-called peace tent, who had locked themselves together, were cut out of their locks with machinery.

Pam Williams, 71, glued herself to the spot where her tent stood as police arrived to take it.

Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: “I’m refusing to leave and I’ve glued myself to the ground. My husband has taken away the tent, the police haven’t got it. I shall stay here until I’m arrested.”

Ellie Chowns, a Green Party MEP, said she was arrested after “standing in solidarity” with protesters in Trafalgar Square.

At 11.30pm, only around 50 protesters remained in Trafalgar Square and the majority of the activists’ infrastructure had been removed.

Activists had previously said they planned to launch “XR Grandparents”, an initiative focused on older generations, on Tuesday afternoon.–PA