Climate change protester's open letter to motorists over roadblock that gridlocked busy Sheffield roundabout
A climate change protester has written an open letter explaining to frustrated motorists why they chose to block a busy roundabout at rush-hour.
Traffic was gridlocked at the Bridgehouses Roundabout that connects Derek Dooley Way to Corporation Street in Kelham Island as about 100 members of Extinction Rebellion held banners across the carriageway for five minute intervals between 8am and 9am on Monday.
The move sparked fury among some motorists and police officers had to intervene as a yellow car and later a moped crept forward towards protesters.
Members of Extinction Rebellion Sheffield said blocking the road was necessary in order to make people stand up and take climate change seriously.
One of the campaigner – a 20-year-old woman who did not want to be identified but described herself as one of the 'annoying protesters' – has now written an open letter explaining why they took the course of action they did.
The letter, in part, read: “Three years ago I was just like you. I called members of environmental action groups hippie tree huggers, and I resented their protests, leafletting and simple calls for us all to be more mindful of our planet.
“I believed being so obsessed with plastic bags, trees and pollution was just self-absorbed privilege when children are starving to death, civilians are being caught up in rich men’s wars and people in our very own city are being denied the help they need due to harsh austerity measures. But how wrong I was.”
She added: “Over time I have come to learn that there is no more pressing issue facing our planet than climate change. We have just 10 years to save Earth before permanent irreversible damage occurs.
“Today’s (Monday) protest sought to not only raise awareness of the issues facing our planet, but also to send the message loud and clear to Sheffield City Council and other cities far and wide that this lack of regard for our planet will not be tolerated.
“So, I am sorry that you were late for work, missed you hairdressers appointment and your shopping defrosted, I really am. But the inconveniences you experienced today as a consequence of our protesting are both trivial are insignificant in comparison to what we will all face if the destruction of our planet is allowed to continue.”
The group specifically wants Sheffield City Council to reverse a decision to widen the Inner Ring Road, which they claim will bring more traffic into the city centre.
Sheffield City Council went ahead with its plan to widen Derek Dooley Way between Corporation Street and Saville Street despite concerns from dozens of residents about pollution and traffic.
The authority said that widening the road will improve traffic flow which is better for the environment.
Councillor Mark Jones, cabinet member for environment at Sheffield City Council, said he wants to work with protesters to tackle climate change and is confident of ‘achieving a zero carbon economy by 2030.’
He added highlighted how the authority has launched the clean air zone consultation, is trialling green bin lorries and making buses more eco-friendly.