Edinburgh commuters face week of chaos as Extinction Rebellion plan further protests

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COMMUTERS face a week of chaos as climate change activists plan further protests in the Capital.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Scotland brought last night’s West End rush-hour to a standstill – tying themselves together and blocking a major road.

Police had to cut protesters free yesterday.

Police had to cut protesters free yesterday.

READ MORE: Edinburgh police gear up for Extinction Rebellion disruption on North Bridge
READ MORE: Arrests as Extinction Rebellion protesters block Edinburgh streets
It was the climax of a day which saw hundreds of police redeployed as officers played a game of cat-and-mouse with protestors across the city.

Reaction to the protest over emissions targets was mixed as some came out of their places of work in support while others vented their frustrations over the disruption.

Silvia Gatti, 23, said: “I have a lot of guilt because I have to work, so I am coming along today to try to show my support. I feel we should embrace the protestors.”

But Peter Cruikshank, 22, from Bruntsfield said: “It’s a total nightmare. There’s so much hypocrisy as they’re handing out leaflets and keeping traffic waiting which just makes it even worse.

A blockade on North Bridge.

A blockade on North Bridge.

“We thought it was a more serious incident with all of the police here. It all seems a tad too much.”

Six protestors lay in the middle of Lothian Road while police quickly broke up similar action in North Bridge and George IV Bridge.

Bystander Tom Quinn, 25, from Haymarket, said: “I really draw a positive from this. It does cause a bit of bother but it is for a good cause.

“I just came down for a Nando’s but I can see why they picked Lothian Road as it will cause the most disruption. The police numbers seem to be a bit excessive."

Activists during the march on the Royal Mile.

Activists during the march on the Royal Mile.

Pasquale Chifreltia, manager of Frizzante on Lothian Road said: “I’m not against the protest at all. So long as they are civil and peaceful they can protest against what they want.

“Of course it is impacting my business but like I say, so long as they are civil, everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Innis and Gunn Brewery Taproom manager Joe Marshall, 25, said: “No one could cross past either side of the venue.

“So it obviously impacted customers and bookings. I support the cause like but that road is one of the main roads used by emergency services.

Protesters on Lothian Road.

Protesters on Lothian Road.

“They really could’ve picked a better place. I don’t know if I’m uninformed it just seems like a silly place to pick.”

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion Scotland set up camp in the grounds of the Scottish Parliament, with MSPs discussing the Climate Change Bill on Tuesday.

The group says its “Holyrood Rebel Camp” was its “biggest ever gathering” and would remain on the site until Thursday.

Protest Aims

Extinction Rebellion Scotland say they want the government to do more to "combat the climate crisis and ecological breakdown" by bringing in a Bill that includes a net zero emissions target by 2025, instead of the current 2045 recommendation.

They also want a Climate Citizens' Assembly to be created to oversee the changes necessary to mitigate against climate change and enable to transition to a "just, carbon-free society."

Joe Cameron, 24, is camping for the next two nights outside Holyrood and said: “It’s a massive worry the threat of ecological disaster. The scientific community says that we are in danger and every Co2 emissions graph tells a worrying story.

“The problem is that the people in power do nothing- politicians and major corporations.

“Personally I don’t want to cause all this inconvenience for people but we do not know what else to do.”

Arrests

In a statement released early on Tuesday morning, Extinction Rebellion said 11 activists occupied Lothian Road for five-and-a-half hours and that all 11 activists were arrested.

Today, from 8am, Extinction Rebellion also plan to form a 'human chain' around Parliament to greet politicians arriving to debate the bill, asking them to take the climate and ecological crisis seriously.

They say yesterday's protests are one of "several acts of civil disobedience" which Extinction Rebellion Scotland will be doing this week to demand a more ambitious Climate Change.

Travel Delays

Lothian buses said there were “long delays throughout the city” on Monday evening.

A massive police presence included vans of riot cops on standby, mounted officers drafted in and the force helicopter deployed as protestors splintered into mobile “direct action” units.

The Evening News was told by a police source that everything from murder investigations, major drug operations and witness protection have been hampered as officers are reassigned to the protests.

“It’s constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul,” added the insider.

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards from Police Scotland said: “We have been facilitating peaceful protest at the Scottish Parliament since Sunday and have been working alongside our partners at the Parliament and the City of Edinburgh Council to mitigate against disruption to the general

public.

“As soon as we became aware of the intention to impact upon the city’s road network we took swift action and are continuing to deal with the situation on Lothian Road. A small number of arrests have taken place.”