Dame Emma Thompson urges politicians to ‘listen up’ at London nature march

Dame Emma Thompson urges politicians to ‘listen up’ at London nature march

Dame Emma Thompson told politicians is to “listen up” as she led thousands of people on a nature march in London.

More than 350 charities, businesses and direct action groups were taking part in the Restore Nature Now march on Saturday, along with Dame Emma, businessman Dale Vince and naturalists Chris Packham and Steve Backshall.

An estimated 60,000 protesters marched from Hyde Park to the Houses of Parliament, urging politicians to act to protect the environment.

The Restore Nature Now demo in Whitehall
Protesters sat on Whitehall during the Restore Nature Now demo (Aaron Chown/PA)

Speaking before the march, Dame Emma told the PA news agency that her message to politicians in Westminster was: “Well, they better listen up.

“I mean, I presume they feel the same concern as we do, but they’re not talking about it much. So that’s been very disappointing.

“It’s probably the most important issue of our day, and we’re losing our countryside at the rate of knots.”

A crowd of thousands with the Houses of Parliament in the background
Dame Emma and Chris Packham led protesters to Parliament Square (Aaron Chown/PA)

The march began at Hyde Park at 12.30pm and protesters walked calmly in a line, led by Dame Emma and Packham, who held a banner reading Restore Nature Now.

Dame Emma said: “We need to actually observe and honour the promises that we have made decade upon decade at every single agreement that we then have reneged on, I mean, in the most extraordinarily blinding ways.

“David Cameron went and signed the Paris Agreement, came back and then signed off on 200 fracking contracts. That’s just, that’s just beyond hypocrisy. It’s just wrong. And we are all suffering for it. All of us.

Chris Packham
TV naturalist Chris Packham took part in the demo (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Everyone needs nature. We all need it. And we have presided over the destruction of our country.

“We have had governments who’ve just taken absolutely no notice. And there is not nearly enough discussion about that.”

Banners reading “There’s No life Without Wildlife”, “There Isn’t A Reset Button” and “Make MPs A Rare Species” were visible in a sea of green foliage and wildlife cut-outs as people marched past Hyde Park and towards Whitehall.

Red-robed protesters
The Red Rebel Brigade took part in the march (Jeff Moore/PA)

Two 3D birds hovered at the front of the march, along with a bright blue butterfly and umbrellas coated in green mock foliage. People carried soft toy birds, wore animal masks and waved flags as the march processed.

Chants of “Restore nature now” echoed down the line of protesters, as people rang bells, whistled and cheered.

Packham told the PA news agency: “I’m here along with all of these other people to share a commonality of purpose.

“We love life, we want to protect our life. We want to protect our children’s lives and the lives and everything that creeps, crawls, slithers, slimes and stings on this planet, because we know we have the capacity to do that.”

He added: “What we need to do today is send a clear message to the future government that we need to do it now.”

Packham said his message to politicians was: “We’re here today, we’re going to make a very polite, pleasant noise. But we’re not going away. We’re going to make a last stand for nature. And we will be banging on that door on July 5, if you don’t listen to us.”

Kites and costumes at the demo
Colourful costumes and banners were out in force during the demo, which urged politicians to protect the environment (Aaron Chown/PA)

As the march went down Whitehall, boos could be heard as the crowd passed Downing Street, with people shouting disapproval and gesturing.

“The booing was because they’re useless in acting against any policies to do with wildlife. It’s the booing of all politicians,” said Gary Smith, 64, an ex-veteran from Eastbourne.