Extinction Rebellion activists target east London concrete plant
Extinction Rebellion activists have begun a second day of protest by blocking and chaining themselves to the entrance of a concrete factory.
Throughout the country, the environmental activist movement is staging five days of non-violent disruption in five cities to urge the government to take immediate action to address the climate crisis.
In east London, around 50 climate activists blocked the gates at London Concrete in Bow to stop workers or vehicles from entering the site on Tuesday morning.
Protesters were on both foot and bikes – some with banners which read: “The air that we grieve” – while three people locked themselves to iron pipes outside the factory’s entrance.
What is Extinction Rebellion?
Extinction Rebellion is an international protest group that uses non-violent civil disobedience to campaign on environmental issues.
More than 1,000 activists were arrested in April 2019 after protesters occupied four sites across London, as well as blocking roads, disrupting a train line and conducting a protest at Heathrow. Other demonstrations have included a semi-naked protest inside the House of Commons.
The group says climate breakdown threatens all life on Earth, and so it is rebelling against politicians who ‘have failed us’, to provoke radical change that will stave off a climate emergency.
The disruption is planned to continue throughout Tuesday to halt the expansion of the site, which is intended to support the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel – a £1bn project to build a toll road under the Thames.
Extinction Rebellion have said the protest is intended to highlight the “devastating” health effects the expansion will have on local residents.
Eleanor McAree, 25, an activist from Tower Hamlets, said: “Concrete has a huge environmental impact and building another tunnel will only make air pollution across east London worse.
“The air pollution is already at dangerous levels and is affecting the health of children and adults in the area. With the siting of this industry right next to two schools, these children face a lifelong negative impact on their health.”
According to recent data from the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory, 2 million people in the capital are living with illegal air pollution.
Although total nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions fell by 9% between 2013 and 2016, the number of primary schools in illegally polluted areas has barely changed in the same period – going from 371 to 369. The number of secondary schools affected grew from 81 to 86, according to City Hall.
Extinction Rebellion is due to continue protests in London, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow until Friday 19 July.
Musician Billy Bragg is set to address demonstrators on Bristol Bridge at 11am on Tuesday, while a peaceful protest is expected to be staged on College Green outside the city’s council building.