Environmental protesters block major roads in bid to bring London to standstill

Environmental protesters have blocked some of London’s busiest roads in a bid to bring the capital to a standstill as they demand Government action on climate change.

Some activists glued themselves to the windows and smashed glass revolving doors at Shell’s headquarters near Waterloo, while others spray- painted graffiti and hung banners on the building.

Police said three males have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage over the incident, which is still ongoing,

Campaign group Extinction Rebellion said they aimed to cause more than £6,000 in damage so they can be tried by a jury in the Crown Court.

Organisers are expecting thousands of people to join protests at five locations in central London as they demand the Government declare a climate emergency.

Skateboarders replaced cars and lorries on Waterloo Bridge as the Thames crossing was closed to traffic and decorated with pot plants and trees.

Police on the bridge said there were no plans to move protesters on but indicated that the response could change if there is major disruption at rush-hour.

One officer said: “It’s been very peaceful so far. Everyone has been really pleasant.

“The only grief we’ve had is from passing motorists shouting at them to ‘Get a job’ – that’s about as exciting as it’s got.”

A bright pink boat became the focus for hundreds of activists stopping traffic at Oxford Circus, where some used makeshift devices to lock their arms together.

Marble Arch was also blocked, while demonstrators caused further disruption as they made their way from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus.

At Parliament Square, people unfurled banners, held up placards and waved flags as speakers took to the stage.

London’s protests are part of a wider campaign which will see people in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries hold similar demonstrations on the same environmental issues, campaigners said.

Organisers said: “The International Rebellion begins and Extinction Rebellion will be bringing London to a standstill for up to two weeks.

“They will be blocking five of the city’s busiest and most iconic locations in a non-violent, peaceful act of rebellion where they invite people to join them for several days of creative, artist-led resistance.”

Demonstrators during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square, London
There were colourful protests in Parliament Square (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Protester Olivia Evershed, 23, said: “I hope that it’s really going to bring awareness about the emergency crisis that we are in, and encourage the Government to act.

“They can change a few of the laws along with the Paris agreement so that we can really work towards achieving a practical target.

“We’ve got 12 years to act before there is irreversible damage to the environment and we start to see catastrophic changes. If we don’t do anything to change this, our children will die.”

Laura Jordan, 52, said: “This protest stands a good chance of working because we have a vast amount of ordinary people all saying the same thing.

“We need to change the way we do everything, the way we use fossil fuels. But this starts with the Government.”

Extinction Rebellion Protesters
The protesters are aiming to cause disruption in central London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The movement has received support from actress and activist Dame Emma Thompson and former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Speaking at a meditation on the eve of the protests, Dr Williams said humans had declared war on nature.

He said: “We are here tonight to declare that we do not wish to be at war.

“We wish to make peace with ourselves by making peace with our neighbour Earth and with our God.”

Demonstrators gather ahead of a Extinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square, London
There will be environmental protests worldwide (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Scotland Yard said they have “appropriate policing plans” in place for the demonstrations and that officers will be used from across the force “to support the public order operation during the coming weeks”.

Police advised people travelling around London in the coming days to allow extra time for their journey in the event of road closures and general disruption.

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