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Extinction Rebellion 2019: Group to block roads to protest widening scheme

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Extinction Rebellion protesting against inaction on climate breakdown in June.

Extinction Rebellion plan to block roads in Sheffield to protest against ring road expansion.

On 9 September, the group will stop traffic at an undisclosed location in the city centre for two hours.

"This road widening scheme makes a mockery of the Council's declaration of a climate emergency," Sophie Armour from Extinction Rebellion told Now Then.

The £4.6m investment would be better spent on higher quality, more affordable public transport

"It will increase noise, toxic air pollution and climate-wrecking CO2 emissions. This peaceful protest is about drawing attention to the Council's massive inconsistency and forcing them to cancel plans to widen the ring road and invest in improving public transport instead."

Despite declaring a climate emergency in February, the Council are currently expanding the Inner Ring Road near The Wicker.

The Council say the plans will "allow increased traffic generated by future growth in the city centre and its economy to be accommodated."

In response to a 2017 consultation, CycleSheffield said that the scheme would lead to "another generation of congestion, air pollution and health problems caused by inactivity".

Nathan Strathdee from Extinction Rebellion said the plan "condemns our children to more air pollution and our world to more vehicular carbon emissions, worsening the pollution issues in a city where 500 deaths each year are linked to air quality."

"The £4.6m investment would be better spent on higher quality, more affordable public transport," he continued.

The actions required to tackle the climate and ecological crisis are many and will require us all to work together

Studies have shown that increased road capacity has no long-term effect on congestion. Instead, car use usually increases due to a phenomenon known as induced demand.

"Whilst Sheffield City Council have made improvements and are sending out all the right messages, dimming street lamps and launching consultations won't halt climate breakdown," said Strathdee.

"We applaud the Council and Cllr Lewis Dagnall on what has been done and encourage them to go further. This means taking radical action such as halting highly polluting infrastructure projects, including the expansion of the ring road."

We asked Extinction Rebellion if the direct action showed that their relationship with the Council has broken down.

"Our consultations with the Council have not broken down and we hope that we will build fruitfully on what we have begun with Sheffield City Council," said Strathdee.

"The actions required to tackle the climate and ecological crisis are many and will require us all to work together."

The group say that this will be a non-arrestable action.

"The time for inaction is over," said Strathdee. "We know the truth about the climate crisis. It is time to act."

Sam Gregory

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