Wales

Extinction Rebellion: More disruption expected as protest continues

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Media captionDrivers waiting in traffic say the protest is creating more pollution

Commuters were faced with disruption again on Tuesday as climate change protesters continued to block a key Cardiff city centre road.

Members of Extinction Rebellion have taken over Castle Street with a green boat and chained themselves together.

The group has faced calls to end the protest and one member has apologised but said the disruption was necessary.

Road closures were put in place from Boulevard De Nantes to Lower Cathedral Road in the city centre.

Bus passengers were also advised to check services before travelling.

South Wales Police said the force "completely" understood the frustration felt by the public, with Extinction Rebellion members saying they expected the protest to remain in place until Wednesday.

Cardiff is one of "five centres of disruption" planned by the group, with others due to take place in Leeds, Glasgow, London and Bristol during the "five-day national campaign" of protests.

Different coloured boats have been used in each city. In Cardiff a green boat was placed front of Cardiff Castle during the first day of protesting on Monday and a second has now been placed outside City Hall.

"Please avoid driving into the city centre if possible and consider using public transport, or walking or cycling for shorter journeys," Cardiff council said on Twitter.

What do the police say?

Ch Supt Stuart Parfitt, of South Wales Police, said: "We completely understand the frustration felt by the public who need to access the city centre and we are working closely with Cardiff council to manage and minimise the disruption, following well-practiced road closure arrangements.

"The protest - which is part of a national campaign - has remained peaceful to date, with protestors refraining from causing damage, disorder or intimidation. The group has also acted with consideration when emergency vehicles have needed to access the blocked highways.

"While there is legislation relating to obstruction of highways, this needs to be balanced with the human rights of those protesting. Everybody under the law has the right to protest peacefully and lawfully and the police must respect that right whilst also recognising the impact on the wider public.

"This is a fine balance and something which is constantly under review with the local council and other emergency services.

"Should the situation escalate, South Wales Police will respond accordingly, taking into account the rights of all those concerned.

"Our response is in line with that taken by police forces throughout the country."

Sian Stephen, from Cardiff Extinction Rebellion, said she expected the protest to remain in place until Wednesday.

"We want people to be aware that this is not our first choice. We really apologise for any inconvenience being caused," she said.

"We wouldn't be here if there was another way of getting our aims achieved, but at the same time I think people need to keep a bit of perspective.

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Media captionSome of the protesters glued themselves around the boat on Monday

"Three days of disruption is nothing compared to the changes to our lives that climate change will cause."

She added: "We've had a very small number of people who have been annoyed but I would say overall, people have been really curious and have stayed."

Image caption Traffic was busier near the city centre on Tuesday morning, but was said to be moving

The protest won the support of the Bishop of Llandaff, the Right Reverend June Osborne, who said it was important "to find the political will to protect the interests of future generations".

But others, including businesses on Castle Street, said the protest would not win people's support because of the disruption caused to their lives.

Councillor Jayne Cowan said a march or a public meeting would have been more effective.

"I know the issue is so important but with this disruption they've lost a lot of support from the public," she said.

"The public are worried about being late for work, the businesses are worried about losing money.

"I don't think this has helped the cause too much because people are talking about the disruption not climate change which is what it should be."

Jeffrey Smith, from Aberbargoed, said everyone had a right to protest.

But he told Jason Mohammad on BBC Radio Wales: "These people have caused more pollution over yesterday and today. I was supposed to work in Cardiff but it was absolute gridlock. Protest off the roads."

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