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Climate change activists demand South Norfolk Council declare climate emergency

PUBLISHED: 13:57 19 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 19 February 2019

Extinction Rebellion campaigners have called on South Norfolk Council to declare a climate emergency. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion campaigners have called on South Norfolk Council to declare a climate emergency. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion

Activists from a climate change campaign group have demanded South Norfolk Council declare a climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion campaigners have called on South Norfolk Council to declare a climate emergency. Picture: Extinction RebellionExtinction Rebellion campaigners have called on South Norfolk Council to declare a climate emergency. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

Members of Extinction Rebellion attended a council meeting on Monday brandishing banners with the message ‘protect the Wensum Valley’.

It comes after the group occupied a county council budget meeting on Monday, February 11, for four hours, which led to four arrests and one man being charged with a public order offence.

Activist and support worker Jo Dingle, from Diss, asked councillors: “Will South Norfolk join other councils across the UK and the world to declare a climate emergency, work to educate their constituents about the emergency, and start to prepare communities for the changes that will be necessary?”

Councillor Kay Mason Billig said protecting the natural environment was a key priority but it was not the right time to be declaring a climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion activists occupied Norfolk County Council chamber at a budget meeting. Picture Dan Grimmer.Extinction Rebellion activists occupied Norfolk County Council chamber at a budget meeting. Picture Dan Grimmer.

But Ms Dingle expressed disappointment with the council’s response, adding: “There was no mention of trying to reduce carbon emissions or schemes to improve public transport.”

She said plans for the western link to connect the A47 to the Norwich Northern Distributor Road, which councils across the county are backing, would ruin the Wensum Valley and will increase carbon emissions. `

“Government, politicians and councillors are not doing enough. We talk about climate change in terms of the future, but it is happening now.”

The climate change debate has come to the fore recently with children from a number of schools taking to the streets to highlight the catastrophic impact of global warming.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Billig said the council was working with Broadland District Council to prepare a joint environmental strategy.

She added: “We work with our residents and our local businesses using education where possible and enforcement when needed to protect our air quality and our beautiful countryside.

Young protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in NorwichYoung protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in Norwich

“While we understand the strength of feeling around this important issue we do not feel that now is the right time to declare a climate emergency.”

A South Norfolk Council spokesman said that, while there were no police officers in the meeting itself, there was a police presence in the building to deal with any potential disruption.

Young protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in NorwichYoung protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in Norwich

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion performed a 'die-in' to raise awareness of climate change. Picture: Ella WilkinsonProtestors from Extinction Rebellion performed a 'die-in' to raise awareness of climate change. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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