Teen climate change protester vows to stay up 100ft crane until forced down by ‘lack of food, water or warmth’

Numerous emergency service vehicles and officers are at the scene on Sunday morning - 24 hours after

Numerous emergency service vehicles and officers are at the scene on Sunday morning - 24 hours after Alex Sidney climbed a Duke Street crane for an Extinction Rebellion protest Photo: Peter Walsh - Credit: Archant

A teenage climate change protestor has vowed to stay put up 100ft crane until he is forced to come down “by lack of food, water or warmth”.

Photographs taken at the top of the Norwich crane which Alex Sidney climbed as part of an Extinction

Photographs taken at the top of the Norwich crane which Alex Sidney climbed as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest. Picture: ALEX SIDNEY - Credit: ALEX SIDNEY

A teenage climate change protester has vowed to stay put up a 100ft crane until he is forced to come down “by lack of food, water or warmth”.

By 12.30pm on Sunday afternoon three marked police cars, a police van, fire engine from Sprowston and two ambulance incident response units, remained at the scene near the bridge on Duke Street more than 30 hours after Alex Sidney, 17, had first scaled the crane to carry out his protest.

The Extinction Rebellion protester, who is on a gap year and lives in Dereham, scaled the crane at about 4.20am on Saturday (November 7) carrying a sleeping bag, supplies and several banners promoting the climate protest group.

Speaking by phone yesterday the teenager vowed to stay put until he got “mild hypothermia”.

Alex Sidney, Extinction Rebellion protester up the crane on the construction site in Duke Street. Pi

Alex Sidney, Extinction Rebellion protester up the crane on the construction site in Duke Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

And today, Alex remained defiant.


You may also want to watch:


Speaking after what he described as a cold night he said things were “pretty good” and he had “got the sun up”.

When asked how long he intended to be up there, Alex, who admitted he had not got much water left, said: “I’m not sure. I know they can’t get me from up here.

Most Read

“They can get up but they can’t get me down.”

Alex Sidney on a crane on Duke Street in the city, which he has scaled as part of a protest by the g

Alex Sidney on a crane on Duke Street in the city, which he has scaled as part of a protest by the group against climate inaction. Credit: Alex Sidney/Extinction Rebellion Norwich/PA - Credit: PA

He said he was being contacted every hour by police who were checking on his welfare and also trying to talk him into coming down.

But he said: “I came up for a reason and when I come down my banners will come down.”

He added: “I will come down when I feel I want to come down or I’m forced to by lack of food, water or warmth.”

A crowd of people had gathered on the other side of the road to try and catch a glimpse of the protester who could be heard playing music from half-way up the crane.

Almost everyone who walked past looked up to try and see for themselves the man who had prompted such a large emergency services response.

Speaking yesterday, Alex said: “If I get arrested now or if I get arrested in nine hours the consequences will be the same so I might as well stay out for a bit longer.

There’s no way I’m going to run away from this.”

The protester, who is on a gap year and lives in Dereham, scaled the crane early on Saturday morning carrying a sleeping bag, supplies and several banners promoting the climate protest group.

He said: “I’m up here to tell the government and the council to get up off their backsides and do something, because I’m worried about the climate.

“I’m desperate because there’s no easy fix, there’s no alternative, and my generation are the ones inheriting this planet - so I really want to try and not let it go to waste.”

Alex said he would remain on a gantry outside the crane’s cab for an “indefinite” time.

Despite overnight rain, he was true to his word, and the stand-off with police continues.

The teen, who said the event was planned a few days ago, said he had never been up as high as this on a crane before, adding it was quite a task getting up there with a really heavy bag.

They had arrived at the site shortly before 4am today expecting it to be difficult to access the site.

But he said there was no security and started climbing at about 4.20am.

He said it took “about 15 minutes” for him to get up there.

He said he had received “quite a lot of support” on social media.

Norwich Police were called to the scene just before 6.40am and have arrested three people in connection with the incident.

Officers remain in attendance and have asked members of the public to avoid the area.

Alex said he has with him a sleeping bag, cushion, food, water, stove, basic tools and battery packs, along with his phone and a speaker for music.

Extinction Rebellion Norwich spokesman James Graham said the crane protest went ahead in place of a much larger demonstration which had to be postponed due to the national lockdown in England.

“The message, fundamentally is that while we know Covid is an immediate problem it does not trump the reality that our world is changing faster than the life on it, including us, can handle,” Mr Graham told PA.

“We need a radical change in the way we do things to change that, now.

“Yes, obviously working at height can be dangerous but in addition to the health and safety measures already in place on site to minimise the risk of accidents, Alex is a bright young man who is fully invested in his own safety.

“None of us want to see anyone getting hurt and we risk assessment all our actions beforehand.

“It was decided that this needed to be done as the risks of inaction on the climate and ecological emergency far outweigh any risks being taken by XR to curb inspire action.”

Mr Sidney has been posting on his Facebook page throughout the day, highlighting his cause and flagging up links to a previous story on our website.

Last month, he posted a photo of a flier about “non-violent civil disobedience” planned for November 7, by Extinction Rebellion Youth.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter