ECO-warriors are planning on causing travel chaos for thousands of families by blocking one of the main roads into London tomorrow.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) are now planning on having a “picnic” on the Westway road near Edgware Road tube station – a key route on the A40 into the capital from West.
The plan could cause traffic mayhem for motorists trying to enjoy the Bank holiday weekend or those returning to London for work.
It comes as the group has caused chaos in the capital, this week as hundreds of activists blocked Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Marble Arch – which is believed to have cost businesses millions of pounds.
NEW PHASE OF PROTESTS
But the group announced they were willing to “pause” the protests and said it would mark “a new phase of rebellion” in a bid to achieve “political aims”.
Since the demonstrations started, a week ago, at least 831 people have been arrested and 42 people have been charged.
Farhana Yamin who is part of the group said being able to “pause” the disruptive protests showed it was an “organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with.”
She said: “Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass disruption across many dimensions.
“Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on negotiations where the focus will shift to our actual political demands.”
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “I’ve been a police officer for 36 years – I have never known an operation, a single operation, in which over 700 people have been arrested.”
On Friday Dame Emma Thompson blamed police for “wasting taxpayers’ money” by tackling the Extinction Rebellion protests which have caused misery for Londoners.
The Oscar-winning actress, 60, defended the illegal demonstrations at sites like Oxford Circus — where she joined protesters on a pink boat blocking traffic on the busy shopping street.
Facing accusations that the demos were wasting valuable police time, Dame Emma told the Daily Mail: “We didn’t ask for police resources, that is their decision. It’s not like we are burning things down.
“The police turned up because they have been asked to turn up.
“They decided to spend their money in this way, which I personally think is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“We aren’t doing anything violent.”
Even bigger demonstrations are feared – with greater turnout prompted by the good weather and the airing of a David Attenborough documentary on climate change on Thursday.
After more than 680 arrests, Scotland Yard warned that resources were being stretched to breaking point as mass demonstrations run into their sixth day today.
MISERY FOR LONDONERS
Businesses around Oxford Street are thought to have lost tens of millions in revenue from the pink boat demo.
The illegal protest sparked travel chaos throughout Central London before the boat was eventually dismantled after 100 hours.
Protesters who had glued and chained themselves to the vessel were eventually cut loose before being rounded up by officers.
The Metropolitan Police had come under intense criticism by Londoners after they appeared to take a light-touch approach to the demonstrations earlier this week.
Waterloo Bridge was overrun by activists who set up a make-shift camp on what is among the capital’s busiest thoroughfares.
Another illegal demonstration took place at Parliament Square opposite Westminster – while hundreds have taken part in a legal gathering at Marble Arch.
WEPT AT HEATHROW
Members of the group wept as they tried to shut down Heathrow Airport at the start of the Easter holidays today, but their protest failed to disrupt a single flight.
Climate-change activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) sobbed as they were faced by police at Britain’s busiest airport on Good Friday morning.
But the demonstration fizzled out without any flights cancelled.
Earlier, Dame Emma defended her decision to fly 5,400 miles to join the Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors who massed in Central London on what was the fifth day of protests.
She jetted business-class from LA and arrived at Heathrow on Wednesday to add her to support to the climate-change demonstrations crippling the capital.
But dungaree-wearing Dame Emma insisted that her conscience is clear – because she plants a lot of trees.
She told the BBC: “Unfortunately, sometimes I have to fly.
“But I don’t fly nearly as much as I did because of my carbon footprint.
“And I plant a lot of trees.”
Unfortunately, sometimes I have to fly. But I don’t fly nearly as much as I did because of my carbon footprint. And I plant a lot of trees.
The Love Actually star said “I bloody don’t” fly economy to reduce her carbon footprint, as she was “far too old for that” – but recognised she may be accused of hypocrisy.
Dame Emma added: “One of the things that has happened, consistently, over the decades I’ve been protesting about this is it’s always turned back on the individual.
“The fact of the matter is everyone has been asking for clean energy for decades and it has been ignored for decades.
“So where is the hypocrisy? If I could fly cleanly I would.”
‘WE HAVE FAILED YOUNG PEOPLE’
Dame Emma, who had also joined demonstrators on Thursday, added: “We have seriously failed them and our planet is in serious trouble, we have much, much less time than we thought.
“I have seen the evidence for myself and I really care about my children and grandchildren enough to want to be here today to stand with the next generation.
“If you can’t have fun whilst saving the planet, what’s the point?”
Protest should always have a sense of joy in it because what we are protesting about is saving this extraordinary home of ours
Dame Emma Thompson
“Protest should always have a sense of joy in it because what we are protesting about is saving this extraordinary home of ours and also celebrating the passion and inspiring energy of this young generation.
“These are young people who have finally said to my generation ‘I’m so sorry but you have failed us’.
“We all feel dreadful about that.
“My feeling is I feel massively inspired by this young generation and want to stand next to them.”
Shortly after Dame Emma’s speech cops circled the boat and told bystanders there was an order to clear the area.
It is estimated that a single 5,456-mile transatlantic flight between Los Angeles and London Heathrow would run up a three-tonne carbon footprint.
MOST READ IN NEWS
Robin Boardman-Pattison, ringleader of the movement, declared during a TV interview this week that flying “should only be used in emergencies” despite appearing to travel extensively.
An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: “If Emma Thompson wants to come and help out, that’s great, she’s using her platform which is incredibly valuable to anyone.
“If she has to fly around the world like a climate lawyer might have to fly around the world, it seems counter-productive in the short term but we are looking at the bigger picture.”
Sir David shows the way
SIR David Attenborough was hailed for his TV climate change call to arms this week, with viewers calling it the real way to make people notice.
Fans said Thursday’s passionate BBC show, Climate Change — The Facts, did more than Extinction Rebellion’s disruptive protests.
The show, watched by 3.34 million people, outlined the crisis facing the planet using the quiet authority of Sir David, 92, left.
Independent MP Anna Soubry wrote online: “This is how you win change — by making the argument based on evidence, not clogging up our great capital #London.”
Sir David told viewers: “In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined.
“It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that without dramatic action, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”
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