Environmental campaigners bring travel disruption to parts of Edinburgh

Environmental campaigners have brought travel disruption to parts of Edinburgh as they took their protest to the heart of the city.

Activists linked to the Extinction Rebellion Scotland group blocked Lothian Road outside the Usher Hall on Monday afternoon.

Six protesters were seen lying on the road, having used tubes to lock themselves together on the surface of the main throughfare.

Police have been using tools to separate the campaigners, as other activists looked on.

Meanwhile, protesters also took to the Royal Mile, at its junctions with North Bridge and George IV Bridge, where attempts to stage road blocks were swiftly broken up by police.

North Bridge, however, was closed for a time, causing rush hour delays and diversions and forcing a number of bus routes to be diverted.

Police Scotland confirmed that a “small number” of arrests have taken place.

Extinction Rebellion protest – Edinburgh
Police officers used cutting equipment to free two protesters (Jane Barlow/PA)

At North Bridge, protesters holding banners occupied the four corners of the junction, as they called for Scotland to lead the world in taking the “radical” action required to address what they describe as a climate emergency.

Protesters chanted “Extinction Rebellion” and held banners saying, “Climate Emergency” and “Act Now”.

They are demanding that ministers act to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

They also want to influence discussions about Scotland’s Climate Change Bill, being debated over the coming days at Holyrood.

One campaigner, Will, 25, said: “In the next 20 years, if we don’t do anything, we’re going to see society collapse and the end of humanity as we know it.

“That’s what all the science is showing, but the governments are not responding to it and it’s bizarre…

“If we don’t do anything, there will be famines, wars, floods.”

The action comes during a five-day protest outside the Scottish Parliament, dubbed the Holyrood Rebel Camp, which is scheduled to run until Thursday.

One activist, 32-year-old Malcolm White, said: “We’re blocking traffic and disrupting people’s daily lives because we are so afraid of the consequences of the climate emergency and the fact that the government is not taking nearly enough action.

“Their commitment to 2045 is unfortunately ecocide, it is going to be completely inadequate and it relies on technologies which are not prepared, they’re not up to scale, and some of them don’t even exist yet.

“Whereas actually, we really need to change the system that we live in and work in, in order to make it a more ecologically friendly and more just society.”

Travel update:Lothian Road remains closed at the moment and we still have some delays across the city.Please allow extra time for your journeys this evening.

— Lothian Buses (@on_lothianbuses) June 17, 2019

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards, of Police Scotland, said: “We have been facilitating peaceful protest at the Scottish Parliament since Sunday and have been working alongside our partners at the Parliament and the City of Edinburgh Council to mitigate against disruption to the general public. 

“As soon as we became aware of the intention to impact upon the city’s road network we took swift action and are continuing to deal with the situation on Lothian Road. A small number of arrests have taken place.

“We would urge motorists to avoid the area where possible for the time being and take alternative routes.

“Thank you in advance for your patience and co-operation. “

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