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Climate protest criticised over meeting hold-up

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A West Norfolk environmental campaigner has criticised the protest which held up Monday’s Norfolk County Council meeting for four hours, even though he says he understands their message.

The debate was adjourned several times after demonstrators occupied the council chamber in protest at plans for a new road.

The group was protesting against proposals to fund work on a new road, known as the Western Link, which will connect the A47 with the new Northern Distributor Road around Norwich.

They fear that the project could cause major environmental damage to the Wensum Valley.

Climate Change protest at County Hall on Monday
Climate Change protest at County Hall on Monday

But Michael de Whalley, of the West Norfolk Green Party, said that, while he understood the message of the protest, he did not approve of the method.

He argued that the successful campaign against the Lynn incinerator, which he was a key figure in, showed what could be achieved.

He said: “In the whole five years of the campaign, we avoided direct action and we were successful, which speaks volumes.

“I understand people’s desperation. We are at a critical point.

“If we do not act swiftly on climate change there are going to be big problems and Norfolk is particularly vulnerable.”

The council’s Labour group argued the protest had prevented campaigners protesting against increased care charges for disabled people from having their voices heard.

But, speaking to the BBC, Rupert Read, of the Extinction Rebellion campaign, said they were putting other councils “on notice” their meetings would also face disruption if they did not declare a climate change emergency.

The group argues that action is needed now to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.

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