‘Climate rebels' plan to block busy Sheffield road in protest at pollution

Activists are planning to block a busy Sheffield road during rush hour this week in protest at pollution in the city.

A group called Extinction Rebellion Sheffield says it intends to obstruct traffic on Sheaf Street outside Sheffield station for short periods on Tuesday morning, from 8am.

Members claim Sheffield Council should be doing more to tackle climate change, and they have chosen one of the most polluted parts of the city in which to make their point.

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They aim to talk to drivers and passersby during the demonstration to highlight the causes and consequences of climate change.

Dr Bing Jones said: “The young have taken the trouble to leave school and break the rules to point out that their parents’ generation is spending their birthright just to remain comfortable.

“We need to block the traffic to raise awareness and force government to act. We only have a few years and must act now.”

The protest is due to take place days after hundreds of schoolchildren skipped lessons to gather in Sheffield city centre for the latest strike demanding action to save the planet.

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Sheffield station was recently named by Friends of the Earth as one of Britain's 10 most polluted spots outside London, with average levels of the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide around platforms 3A and 2B recorded at nearly twice the legal limit.

In a post advertising the planned demonstration, Extinction Rebellion Sheffield describes its members as ‘climate rebels’ aiming to bring attention to what it brands a 'climate crisis’.

“Sheffield City Council has recently declared a climate emergency and says it will be transitioning to a fully renewable energy supply. This is to be commended,” it states.

“Unfortunately, the council is continuing to spend millions on widening the ring road which will bring thousands more cars into the city centre every day.

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“Its most recent budget barely makes reference to climate change. With toxic air pollution from traffic above legal limits across Sheffield and carbon emissions from manufacturing and private vehicles causing dangerous climate breakdown, we urgently need to change course and cut emissions fast.

“To bring attention to this fact, Extinction Rebellion Sheffield is organising a ‘swarming’ protest outside the train station, one of the most polluted places in the UK, at rush hour on March 19. This involves blocking the traffic on the Sheaf Street crossing for short periods.

“This will cause delays but allow the traffic to keep moving. We apologise for the inconvenience to drivers, but this is nothing compared to the climate catastrophe that is our current future.

“Our aims are to use this protest to pressurise Sheffield City Council to go carbon neutral by 2030, make people aware of the pollution at the train station and endorse the school strike on March 15th.”

For more information about Tuesday’s protest, which is one of many being planned around the country, visit the Extinction Rebellion Facebook page.