Extinction Rebellion activists wearing gas masks block central London road

By Laura Parnaby, PA

Climate change activists wearing gas masks blocked a central London road to demand the next government tackles “deadly levels of air pollution” in the capital.

Six Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed in hi-vis suits glued their hands to yellow breeze-blocks in the middle of Cranbourn Street, outside Leicester Square Tube station.

The demonstration, called The Air We Grieve, involved 25 cement blocks which the activists said represents the number of Londoners who die each day as a result of air pollution.

A van parked sideways next to them was emblazoned with a sign reading: “Air Pollution Kills 25 Londoners Each Day”.

Climate change activists wearing gas masks block Cranbourn Street in London (Gareth Morris/Extinction Rebellion/PA)

Police later arrived in the street, which protesters said has “dangerously high levels of air pollution”.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Police are aware of a small number of protesters outside Leicester Square Underground station.

“Officers are in attendance.”

One protester, teacher Rosamund Frost, said: “We are here demanding action on illegal levels of toxic air in our communities, our schools and our streets.

“In February 2017, the European Commission issued a ‘final warning’ to the UK over illegal levels of air pollution.

“In May that year, after the Government failed to take decisive action, they were taken to Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.

“The Government have neglected to tackle fatal levels of air pollution. How can we put our trust in them to address the broader climate and ecological emergency?”

Meanwhile, other Extinction Rebellion protesters were entering their fourth week on hunger strike outside political party headquarters in Westminster.

The strikers, including 76-year-old grandfather Peter Cole, have sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, inviting him to discuss the climate and ecological emergency with them on Monday.