Newham Council urges protestors to respect residents – ahead of weekend demonstrations

Newham Council is urging supporters of the Extinction Rebellion climate campaign to observe social distancing, and the law, during this weekend’s planned demonstrations.

Extinction Rebellion has announced plans to demonstrate in the borough over the Bank Holiday weekend, including in Central Park, East Ham and at London City Airport.

Newham Council is committed to pursue policies in line with the Mayor’s election pledges to promote green policies which will improve air quality, the environment and the health and well-being of residents. However at this critical point in the Covid-19 Crisis, where the Council is doing all it can to stop a catastrophic second wave of the virus, it is concerned about the potential public health threat posed by large gatherings in the borough.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, who has backed previous Extinction Rebellion protests against the Silvertown Tunnel and expansion of London City Airport said; “My support for the aims of the Extinction Rebellion campaign are a matter of record, however I would urge all protestors to follow the law and all the guidelines on social distancing, gatherings and hygiene this weekend.

“This borough suffered more than any other during the early months of the pandemic, and we have worked tirelessly to make sure our residents are kept as safe as possible. I would ask that all protestors respect our residents, who are amongst the most vulnerable in the country to the COVID-19 virus.

“That does not diminish my commitment to tackle the climate emergency, which remains one of the council’s top corporate priorities.

“As a Council we have consistently opposed the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, and we welcome the indefinite pause announced to London City Airport’s planned expansion.”

Newham declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019 and has since announced a wide range of policies and initiatives to fundamentally change the way things are done. As part of this declaration the council aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 (i.e. a reduction in GHGs by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050). By 2030 we aim to make the borough ‘carbon neutral’.)

In pursuit of these critical goals in July 2020, the council’s Cabinet approved a climate emergency action plan which sets out some of the key steps we are planning to introduce. It includes measures that range from improving the borough’s green spaces to increasing the energy efficiency of the council’s residential and non-residential property, and diverse transport schemes that will reduce air pollution and improve the health of local people.

A further key strand within the climate emergency action plan is the longer term transformation of the borough’s economy through investment in green technologies and ensuring that local people have access to the kinds of skills and technical training that will enable them to take advantage of the new jobs created. The ‘greening’ of Newham’s economy is one of the eight pillars of Newham’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy and a separate action plan is currently being developed.

Newham Council is working with local people to reduce greenhouse gases. Early in 2020, we commissioned a Citizens’ Assembly of local people to tell us what they think. Here is their report and the council’s response to their recommendations.

Newham Council’s response to the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change (PDF) 

Tackling the climate emergency involves all areas of the council, working with the local community. Our climate emergency annual report it sets out just some of the things the Council has done since the council declared a climate emergency in May 2019.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said; “I absolutely stand by the right to protest, and totally empathise and support the aims of the Extinction Rebellion movement. I hope and trust that the campaigners recognise the lengths this Council is going to, to fulfil our pledges to tackle climate change. But I also know that COVID-19 is still very much with us, and hope the campaigners respect the right of our residents to be safe, and avoid any potential public health risk which could allow a second wave of devastating illness.”

Published: 27 Aug 2020