Thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors bring London's Oxford Street to a standstill

9 April 2022, 17:10

Extinction Rebellion have blocked roads during a protest in central London
Extinction Rebellion have blocked roads during a protest in central London. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Extinction Rebellion have blocked roads during a protest in central London to demand an end to fossil fuel investments.

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Climate activists, including an Olympic gold medallist, have staged a sit-down protest in Oxford Street and Regent Street, blocking traffic in the heart of London's shopping district to call for no the Government to stop new investment in fossil fuels.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Speakers' Corner at Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching into the centre of the city's West End.

The crowd sat down across Oxford Circus and the famous high streets it connects, chanting "save our planet" and "whose streets, our streets".

They carried banners that read "I am here for nature and children", "navel gazing into disaster" and "life on earth is dying". Some were seen eating their lunch while they sat in sunny weather.

Canoeist Etienne Stott, who won the slalom event with Tim Baillie at the London 2012 Olympic Games, said he was participating out of fear for the future of the planet.

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The former athlete said: "I am here to demand the Government end the fossil economy.

"We need no further fossil fuel investment.

"I am really scared for the future."

He believes that the political action currently being taken is "sending us on a path to destruction".

Stott, who held a banner that read "I will need a bystander", added: "Our voice is the voice of ordinary people saying 'no, not in my name'."

The 42-year-old, from Nottingham, earlier urged his Twitter followers to "come and join me" at Saturday's protest, sharing a quote from the UN Secretary General which says that, instead of climate activists, "the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing production of fossil fuels".

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Stott is an outspoken supporter of Extinction Rebellion and is no stranger to its demonstrations.

He chained himself to a boat with fellow British Olympian Laura Baldwin to blockade the entrance to ExxonMobil's Fawley oil terminal in Hampshire last October.

He was convicted of a public order offence after Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019, when he was arrested on Waterloo Bridge with other demonstrators after they refused to comply with conditions imposed by police.

Stott, who retired from canoeing in 2016, was awarded an MBE for services to the sport in 2013.

The Metropolitan Police said protesters were disrupting traffic on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

The force tweeted: "A number of protesters in Oxford St. & Regent St. are sitting in the road, blocking traffic in both directions. Traffic diversions are being put in place."

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the protest was "counterproductive" adding that demonstrators needed to win over public opinion at the same time as putting pressure on the government.