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Extinction Rebellion climate protestors blockade Station Road West in Canterbury

Climate activists are mounting a rush-hour blockade in Canterbury's city centre.

Extinction Rebellion, which wants the city council to declare a climate and ecological emergency, has organised the demonstration today as part of a "week of action."

They are blocking off Station Road West between 4pm and 6pm in an effort to draw attention to the global warming crisis and protest plans for a £9m multi-storey car park by Canterbury West rail station.

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Extinction Rebellion protestors have launched a blockade in Canterbury during rush hour (10748406)
Extinction Rebellion protestors have launched a blockade in Canterbury during rush hour (10748406)

About 50 protestors are taking part in this afternoon's protest.

Keith Bothwell, one of the group's members, said: "We appreciate that this action will cause disruption and inconvenience, and apologise for this.

"But if we do not all act immediately to address the climate and ecological emergency, there will be catastrophic consequences for us all in the very near future."

University of Kent student Natasha Jacob speaks about the protest

Traffic is able to pass by along St Dunstan's Street, while Station Road West is blockaded.

Fiona Kingsman, 52, said: "I went up to the big protest in London with my 14-year-old daughter, and it changed me, feeling that momentum of change happening. We’re doing anything we can to spread the word.

"I was involved in organising an arts conference about climate change eight years ago, and nothing has changed. I have been involved in protests as a student, but that was a long time ago.

Fiona Kingsman, 52, taking part in the protest (10750083)
Fiona Kingsman, 52, taking part in the protest (10750083)

"For over half my lifetime, I haven’t done anything like this.

"None of us want to be here, but I think that’s what this movement is doing, it’s just normal people trying to make a change."

Those taking part today say membership of Extinction Rebellion has rocketed from 40 at the beginning of the year to 270 now.

A stark UN report last year warned that global leaders have only 12 years to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The blockade is of Station Road West, but traffic is passing by along St Dunstan's Street (10748409)
The blockade is of Station Road West, but traffic is passing by along St Dunstan's Street (10748409)

Unless this is achieved - requiring a 45% decline in CO2 emissions by 2030 - leading climate scientists say there will be "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" with the risk of extreme heat, drought and floods across the world.

On Wednesday evening (May 22), the group will 'welcome' newly elected city councillors to their roles at a swearing in ceremony at the Guildhall.

A celebratory garden party is also being planned outside county hall in Maidstone on Thursday (May 23), when Kent County Council will discuss a motion on declaring a climate emergency.

Activists are planning to greet councillors entering the building with flowers and colourful banners.

A motion to commit to making Canterbury carbon neutral by 2030 was voted down at a policy and resources committee meeting last month, after Conservative councillors argued it would be "unfair" to "bind" the next council to the commitment just before the election.

Extinction Rebellion, whose activists have also glued themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace and staged mass sit-ins at the entrance to Downing Street, wants the UK government to declare a climate emergency, make policy commitments for zero carbon by 2025 and create Citizens Assemblies across the country.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury.

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