Green protest on parliament roof draws to close

Greenpeace protestors occupy parliament roof
Greenpeace protestors occupy parliament roof

By Alex Stevenson

Around 30 climate change protestors were set to abandon their two-day demonstration on the roof of parliament as light faded on the protest's second day.

Six police vans and two police cars were waiting in the precincts of the Palace of Westminster as one activist dismantled a large banner which had been draped over the roof of Westminster Hall.

Environmental group Greenpeace said 55 activists had initially used ladders to scale the Palace of Westminster's walls yesterday afternoon. Twenty-four had come down during the night and were arrested and bailed to return, but 31 remained.

The demonstrators were located away from the main section of the Palace where the Commons and Lords are located. They occupied the roof immediately adjacent to the northern end of Westminster Hall, close to the statue of Oliver Cromwell visible from Parliament Square.

This morning police at the scene told the protest was not expected to be ended this morning, but said it was "well-contained". "They're not going anywhere," one said.

The demonstrators remained defiant, waving bright green flags on day two of their protest. They are calling for a new style of politics which is capable of meeting the challenge of climate change, 60 days before the crucial summit in Copenhagen begins.

The protest came as the climate change committee published its first annual report to parliament. It called for a "step change" in the pace of emissions reduction.

"I feel nervous and I feel a little bit scared, but I feel proud to be doing something I believe in," one activist said in a video recorded before the demonstration began.

The demonstrators received support from an unlikely quarter as Alan Simpson, special adviser to climate change secretary Ed Miliband, declared his backing for the protest.

"I do hope that the activists are using their visit to the House of Commons to provide proper reconnaissance of the opportunities to install solar panels on the roofs of parliament," he said.

"I have been on the roofs myself and can confidently say that there is a vast amount of space to jam-pack more than enough panels to meet parliament's energy needs in [a] responsible, renewable way."

Not all agreed. Green Monitor, a new campaign group which wants a higher level of scrutiny into the debate on green issues, attacked the Greenpeace demo as a "cheap publicity stunt".

"Today's protests are basically an advertising exercise for Greenpeace, a multi-million pound lobbying operation," director Shane Frith said.

"Unfortunately, they will do nothing to protect the environment or help the world's poor."


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