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Climate change protesters disrupt traffic with rush-hour roadblocks

Extinction Rebellion ‘swarmed’ roads in south-east London in an attempt to put pressure on the Government over air quality.

Protesters from Extinction Rebellion swarm roads in Catford, south-east London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Protesters from Extinction Rebellion swarm roads in Catford, south-east London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Commuters faced “annoyance” and disruption on Friday, as climate change campaigners blocked major London roads during rush-hour.

Extinction Rebellion Lewisham “swarmed” roads in the south-east of the capital in an attempt to put pressure on the Government over air quality.

Air pollution in the borough of Lewisham was found to be approximately six times higher than safe levels recommended by the World Health Organisation in 2017.

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Extinction Rebellion protesters demonstrate outside Lewisham station (Caitlin Doherty/PA)

The recommended amount of PM2.5 particles, which can cause asthma and other respiratory problems, is 25 micrograms per cubic metre of air; however, highs of 150mg were recorded in Lewisham from October 2016 to September 2017

Holly, 34, who did not give her surname, was caught up in traffic jams after protesters blocked the A205 South Circular in Catford, the A21 at Lewisham station, and the A2 in Deptford, until about 9am.

While stuck in her car outside Lewisham station, “annoyed” Holly said: “It’s backed up and I’ve been sat in it for more than half an hour.

“I’m definitely going to be late for work now.”

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Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters block a road in Catford (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

However, others were more supportive of the protest.

Graham, who also did not give his surname, did not take part in the action, but “applauded” Extinction Rebellion and called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to resign over pollution.

The Lewisham resident said: “The man’s a disgrace.

“I can’t see that they’re doing anything quickly about this problem.”

In November, Mr Khan called Lewisham’s air quality a “health crisis”.

Graham, a public body employee, added: “If people could see the pollution they would do something about it.

“It’s killing people but nobody seems to care.”

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Schoolgirls joined the protest (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The death of a nine-year-old child who lived in the area is to be re-examined at an inquest, to determine whether it was linked to air pollution.

Ella Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, died in 2013 after having an asthma attack.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The mayor recognises we face a climate emergency and shares the protesters’ passion for tackling this issue. But he is clear that causing disruption for Londoners in this way is unacceptable. The protesters’ actions caused problems for commuters trying to get to and from work.

“The mayor is doing all he can to reduce the impact of climate change on Londoners – but it is up to the Government to take the bold action required at a national level.”

Harry Gibson, 35, took part in Friday morning’s action, his second Extinction Rebellion protest.

He said: “The environment catastrophe will far outweigh the damage caused by a few roadblocks on a Friday morning.”

“We need to look to the future for future generations.”

Friday’s disruption was the latest in a series of actions by Extinction Rebellion.

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An Extinction Rebellion protester in Catford (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Protests in Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch led to road closures and traffic gridlock for 10 days in April.

More than 1,000 people were arrested after campaigners glued themselves to DLR trains and parked a boat in the middle of Oxford Circus.

PA

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